Packed red cells versus whole blood transfusion for severe paediatric anaemia, pregnancy-related anaemia and obstetric bleeding: an analysis of clinical practice guidelines from sub-Saharan Africa and evidence underpinning recommendations
Tropical Medicine & International Health : Tm & Ih. 2018;24((1):):11-22.
OBJECTIVE Blood component transfusion is increasingly promoted in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), but is resource-intensive so whole blood is often used. We examined SSA recommendations about whole blood and packed red cell transfusions for pregnancy-related bleeding or anaemia, and paediatric anaemia, and evaluated the evidence underpinning these recommendations. METHOD Relevant SSA guidelines were identified using five electronic databases, websites for SSA Ministries of Health, blood transfusion services and WHO. To facilitate comparisons, indications for transfusing packed red cells or whole blood within these guidelines and reasons given for these recommendations were recorded on a pre-designed matrix. The AGREE II tool was used to appraise guidelines that gave a reason for recommending either packed red cells or whole blood. We systematically searched MEDLINE, CINAHL, Global Health, Cochrane library and NHSBT Transfusion Evidence Library, using PRISMA guidelines, for clinical studies comparing whole blood with packed red cells or combined blood components in obstetric bleeding or anaemia, or paediatric anaemia. Characteristics and findings of included studies were extracted in a standardised format and narratively summarised. RESULTS 32 English language guidelines from 15 SSA countries mentioned packed red cell or whole blood use for our conditions of interest. Only seven guidelines justified their recommendation for using packed red cells or whole blood. No recommendations or justifications had supporting citations to research evidence. 33 full-text papers, from 11,234 citations, were reviewed but only one study met our inclusion criteria. This was a single-centre study in post-partum haemorrhage. CONCLUSION Evidence comparing whole blood and packed red cell transfusion for common paediatric and maternal indications is virtually absent in SSA. Therefore, it is unclear whether policies promoting red cells over whole blood transfusion are clinically appropriate. Building a relevant evidence base will help develop effective policies promoting the most appropriate use of blood in African settings. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.