Clinical Utility of Autologous Salvaged Blood: a Review

Steven M. Frank, Robert A. Sikorski, Gerhardt Konig, Diamantis I. Tsilimigras, Jan Hartmann, Mark A. Popovsky, Timothy M. Pawlik, Jonathan H. Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Autologous salvaged blood, commonly referred to as “cell saver” or “cell salvage” blood, is an important method of blood conservation. Understanding the mechanism of action and summarizing the existing evidence regarding the safety, efficiency, and the relative costs of cell salvage may help educate clinicians on how and when to best utilize autotransfusion. Methods: This review focuses on issues concerning the quality of red blood cells (RBC), efficiency, and the cost effectiveness relative to autotransfusion. The key considerations of safe use and clinical applicability are described along with the challenges for wider dissemination. Results: Cell salvage can reduce requirements for allogeneic transfusions, along with the associated risks and costs. Autologous salvaged RBCs provide high-quality transfusion, since the cells have not been subjected to the adverse effects of storage as occurs with banked blood. The risks for RBC alloimmunization and transfusion-related infectious diseases are also avoided. With a careful selection of cases, salvaged blood can be more cost effective than donor blood. Cell salvage may have a role in cardiac, major vascular, orthopedic, transplant, and trauma surgeries. However, there remain theoretical safety concerns in cases with bacterial contamination or in cancer surgery. Conclusion: In addition to other methods of blood conservation used in patient blood management programs, autologous salvaged blood adds value and is cost effective for appropriate surgical cases. Evidence suggests that autologous salvaged blood may be of higher quality and confer a cost reduction compared with the allogeneic banked blood, when used appropriately.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-472
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Autologous blood
  • Cell salvage
  • Cell saver
  • Transfusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Surgery


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