Intravenous literature: Page, C., Retter, A. and Wyncoll, D. (2013) Blood conservation devices in critical care: a narrative review. Annals of Intensive Care. 3(14).
Anaemia is associated with inferior outcomes in critically ill patients. It is difficult to prevent and is treated commonly with the transfusion of packed red cells. However, transfusion to augment oxygen delivery has not been shown to consistently offer a survival advantage when the haemoglobin concentration exceeds 7 g/dL. Several studies point to inferior outcomes when patients are transfused. Observational studies have confirmed that critically ill patients have frequent blood draws as part of their routine daily care. Cumulatively large volumes of blood are frequently taken, which contribute significantly towards the development of anaemia. Reducing iatrogenic blood loss may reduce the risk of developing anaemia and possibly the need for transfusion. Blood conservation devices may help to achieve this goal. The integration of blood conservation devices into routine care has been relatively slow in critical care. This review summarises the current evidence base and confirms that blood conservation devices do reduce the volume of iatrogenic blood loss. In the most recent studies, these devices have been shown to reduce transfusion requirements even in those intensive care units that follow a restrictive transfusion strategy.