Effect of incubation with crystalloid solutions or medications on packed red blood cells

Domagoj Mladinov, Kristine Yarnoff, Nagababu Enika, Dan E Berkowitz, Courtney Lawrence, Paul M. Ness, Thomas Kickler, Patricia A. Brunker, Joan S. Boyd, Jeffrey M. Dodd-o

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) guidelines suggest that packed red blood cells (PRBCs) be administered through a dedicated intravenous (IV) catheter. Literature supporting this broad-scope declaration are scarce. Obtaining additional IV access is painful, costly, and an infectious risk. We evaluated the effect of co-incubating PRBCs with crystalloids and medications on PRBC hemolysis, membrane deformability, and aggregation, as well as medication concentration. METHODS: PRBCs were co-incubated 5 minutes with plasma, normal saline (NS), 5% dextrose in water (D5W), Plasmalyte, epinephrine (epi), norepinephrine (norepi), dopamine (dopa), or Propofol (prop). Samples were then assessed for hemolysis (free hemoglobin, serum potassium), membrane deformability (elongation index [EI]), aggregation (smear, critical shear stress [mPa]) and drug concentration (High Performance Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry [LCMS-MS]). Significance (p ≤ 0.05) was determined by Wilcoxon-paired comparisons or Wilcoxon/Kruskall Willis with post-hoc Dunn's test. RESULTS: Compared to co-incubation with plasma: 1) co-incubation resulted in significantly increased hemolysis only when D5W as used (free hemoglobin, increased potassium); 2) EI trended lower when co-incubated with D5W and trended toward higher when co-incubated with prop; 3) aggregation was significantly lower when PRBCs co-incubated with NS, D5W, or Plasmalyte, and trended lower when co-incubated with epi, norepi, or dopa. Medication concentrations were between those predicted by distribution only in plasma and distribution through the entire intra- and extracellular space. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that 5 minutes of PRBC incubation with isotonic crystalloids or catecholamines does not deleteriously alter PRBC hemolysis, membrane deformability, or aggregation. Co-incubation with D5W likely increases hemolysis. Propofol may promote hemolysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2643-2651
Number of pages9
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Hematology


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