What is the role of leukoreduction in transfusion?

Updated: Apr 16, 2019
  • Author: Linda L Maerz, MD, FACS, FCCM; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

As delineated above, blood transfusions are associated with various risks linked to nucleated cells inadvertently included in the transfused component. Leukoreduction reduces the number of transfused white blood cells via centrifugation or filtration. Leukocyte counts are reduced by greater than 99% compared to nonleukoreduced red cell transfusions. Leukoreduction is effective in reducing the transmission of cell-associated viruses (eg, CMV, Herpes viruses, EBV) and may also reduce parasite and prion transmission, nonhemolytic febrile transfusion reactions, and TRALI. However, with regard to other parameters, outcomes of leukoreduction studies provide controversial and contradictory data. Many countries have adopted routine leukoreduction, and some authors purport that universal leukoreduction is justified. However, the process increases the cost of blood transfusion, and determining the patient populations in which it should be used is a source of continued debate. [62, 63]


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