BACKGROUND Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) is a devastating disease that leads to important morbidity and mortality in a young patient population. Anemia following aSAH is common and may be exacerbated by the treatments instituted by clinicians as part of standard care. The role and optimal thresholds for red blood cell (RBC) transfusion in this patient population remains unknown. METHODS/DESIGN We
will conduct a systematic review of the literature using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and EBM Reviews (including Cochrane Central databases) using a comprehensive search strategy for observational and interventional studies of RBC transfusion in aSAH. Our primary objective is to evaluate the association of RBC transfusion with mortality in aSAH patients. Secondary objectives include a) determining associations between RBC transfusion and poor neurologic outcome, b) defining an optimal RBC transfusion threshold in aSAH patients, and c) describing complications associated with RBC transfusion in aSAH patients. We plan a descriptive reporting of all included citations including study characteristics, methodological quality, and reported outcomes. Clinical and statistical heterogeneity observed between studies will be described. If appropriate, meta-analyses of suitable studies and interpretation of their results will be performed. Effect measures will be converted to obtain relative risks and odds ratios (RR and ORs) with 95% confidence intervals and pooled according to study design (randomized trials and observational studies respectively) using a random effects model. DISCUSSION This review will summarize the existing observational and trial evidence regarding RBC transfusion in aSAH patients. The analytical plan has made considerations for different study designs, both observational and interventional in nature, and will summarize the best available evidence to inform the end user and policy and guideline producers and to highlight areas in need of further study. SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION PROSPERO CRD42014014806.