The effects of cryopreserved red blood cell transfusion on tissue oxygenation in obese trauma patients

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Low tissue oxygenation (StO2) is associated with poor outcomes in obese trauma patients. A novel treatment could be the transfusion of cryopreserved packed red blood cells (CPRBCs), which the in vitro biochemical profile favors red blood cell (RBC) function. We hypothesized that CPRBC transfusion improves StO2 in obese trauma patients.


Two hundred forty-three trauma patients at five Level I trauma centers who required RBC transfusion were randomized to receive one to two units of liquid packed RBCs (LPRBCs) or CPRBCs. Demographics, injury severity, StO2, outcomes, and biomarkers of RBC function were compared in nonobese (body mass index [BMI] < 30) and obese (BMI ≥ 30) patients. StO2 was also compared between obese patients with BMI of 30 to 34.9 and BMI ≥ 35. StO2 was normalized and expressed as % change after RBC transfusion. A p value less than 0.05 indicated significance.


Patients with BMI less than 30 (n = 141) and BMI of 30 or greater (n = 102) had similar Injury Severity Score, Glasgow Coma Scale, and baseline StO2. Plasma levels of free hemoglobin, an index of RBC lysis, were lower in obese patients after CPRBC (125 [72–259] μg/mL) versus LPRBC transfusion (230 [178–388] μg/mL; p < 0.05). StO2 was similar in nonobese patients regardless of transfusion type, but improved in obese patients who received CPRBCs (104 ± 1%) versus LPRPCs (99 ± 1%, p < 0.05; 8 hours after transfusion). Subanalysis showed improved StO2 after CPRBC transfusion was specific to BMI of 35 or greater, starting 5 hours after transfusion (p < 0.05 vs. LPRBCs). CPRBCs did not improve clinical outcomes in either group.


CPRBC transfusion is associated with increased StO2 and lower free hemoglobin levels in obese trauma patients, but did not improve clinical outcomes. Future studies are needed to determine if CPRBC transfusion in obese patients attenuates hemolysis to improve StO2.


Therapeutic, level IV.

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