The effect of exchange transfusion on mortality in neonatal sepsis: a meta-analysis

Eur J Pediatr. 2022 Jan;181(1):369-381 doi: 10.1007/s00431-021-04194-w.

Although antimicrobials are the cornerstone of neonatal sepsis management, adjunctive therapies are required to improve outcomes. The aim of our study was to evaluate the effect of exchange transfusion (ET) on mortality (primary outcome) in neonatal sepsis, as well as on immunoglobulin, complement and neutrophil levels and assess its complications (secondary outcomes). Databases searched include PubMed, NCBI, Google Scholar, CINHAL, Ovid and Scopus. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), controlled observational studies (COSs) and uncontrolled observational studies (UOSs) reporting mortality data from using ET in neonatal sepsis were included. Studies with additional interventions, non-septic ET indications and populations aged > 28 days were excluded. Data extracted include demographics, features of study, sepsis and ET, as well as mortality rates, immunological and laboratory changes and complications. Data was meta-analysed and displayed using forest plots. The meta-analysis of 14 studies (3 RCTs, 11 COSs) revealed a mortality benefit in septic neonates who underwent ET-RR 0.72 (CI 0.61-0.86, p = 0.01) and a significant increase in pooled immunological parameters (immunoglobulin, complement levels) (SMD 1.13, [0.25, 2.02], p = 0.02) and neutrophil levels (SMD 1.07 [0.04, 2.11], p = 0.03) compared to controls. The descriptive analysis of 9 UOSs revealed thrombocytopenia as the most frequently reported complication (n = 48). Moderate-high risk of bias was largely due to inadequate sample sizes and follow-up durations.Conclusion: Currently, the use of ET in neonatal sepsis is not directly recommended due to low certainty of evidence, inadequate power and moderate-high risk of bias and heterogeneity.Trial registration: PROSPERO (CRD42020176629) ( ) What is Known: • Exchange transfusion is one of the adjunctive methods for treatment of neonatal sepsis. What is New: • The pooled analysis of all studies shows that exchange transfusion has a low certainty of evidence in the context of neonatal mortality. However, at this point, this intervention cannot be refuted or recommended due to heterogeneity of studies and inadequate power.

KEYWORDS: Double-volume exchange transfusion (DVET); Exchange transfusion; Mortality; Neonatal sepsis
MESH HEADINGS: Humans; Infant Mortality; Infant, Newborn; Neonatal Sepsis; Sepsis
Study Details
Study Design: Systematic Review
Language: eng
Credits: Bibliographic data from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine