What are the advantages of erythrocytapheresis over simple transfusion in the treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD)?

Updated: May 12, 2021
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Erythrocytapheresis thus has the advantage of controlling iron accumulation in patients with SCD who undergo long-term transfusion, as well as the ability to achieve adequate Hb and HbS concentrations without exceeding the normal concentration. This precision is achieved because, before the start of the transfusion, the computer in the pheresis machine calculates the expected amount of packed RBCs required to obtain a specific posttransfusion hemoglobin level, using various physiologic parameters (eg, height, weight, Hb level). Further, erythrocytapheresis requires less time than simple transfusion of similar blood volumes.

Although erythrocytapheresis is more expensive than simple transfusion, the additional costs associated with simple transfusions (ie, those of chelation and organ damage due to iron overload) make erythrocytapheresis more cost-effective than simple transfusion programs. Central venous access devices can safely be used for long-term erythrocytapheresis in patients with SCD with a low rate of complications.

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