OBJECTIVE Hypocalcaemia detrimentally affects the cardiovascular system and massive transfusion-related hypocalcaemia is particularly severe in end-stage liver disease patients undergoing liver transplantation (LT). This study, therefore, compared the severity and duration of ionized hypocalcaemia between patients with normal and impaired liver function. METHODS Patients (n = 26 per group) were transfused at a rate of 10 ml/kg within 10 min
with packed red blood cells (PRBCs) during LT (group LP) or spinal surgery (group SP), or were infused with 0.9% normal saline during spinal surgery (group SN). Serum levels of ionized calcium were assessed before (T(0)), just after (T(1)), and at 20 (T(2)) and 60 min (T(3)) after transfusion. RESULTS Transfusion with PRBCs caused more severe ionized hypocalcaemia than 0.9% normal saline at T(1). In contrast to the faster (20 min) normalization in group SP, ionized hypocalcaemia in group LP persisted at T(3). Serum ionized calcium levels at T(3) showed correlations with vital signs, blood glucose, serum potassium, base deficit and lactate. CONCLUSION Rapid blood transfusion caused more severe and prolonged ionized hypo calcaemia in patients with liver dysfunction than in those with normal liver function.