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Red cell volume and cardiac output in anaemic preterm infants.
  1. I Hudson,
  2. A Cooke,
  3. B Holland,
  4. A Houston,
  5. J G Jones,
  6. T Turner,
  7. C A Wardrop
  1. Queen Mother's Hospital, Yorkhill, Glasgow.


    To test the hypothesis that haemoglobin concentration is a poor predictor of benefit from transfusion in preterm infants, and that red cell volume is the most important indicator of anaemia, 24 preterm infants receiving red cell transfusions had red cell volume, haemoglobin concentration, and cardiac output measured before and after transfusion. Red cell volume was measured either using dilution of autologous fetal haemoglobin with donor adult haemoglobin, or with a new technique using biotin as a red cell label. The two techniques give similar results. Mean (SD) values before transfusion were 27.4 (13.3), and after transfusion 45.0 (13.7) ml/kg. Cardiac output was measured using imaging and Doppler ultrasonography, and fell with transfusion from mean 286 (121) to 251 (95.6) ml/kg/min. The red cell volume before transfusion correlated well with changes in cardiac output following transfusion, infants with a red cell volume before transfusion of less than 25 ml/kg showing a fall in cardiac output, and those with a red cell volume of greater than 25 ml/kg not showing a significant fall. There was no correlation between haemoglobin concentration, packed cell volume, or change in packed cell volume with changes in cardiac output after transfusion. A red cell volume of 25 ml/kg seems to be critical in preterm infants with anaemia, and infants with values below this are those most likely to benefit from transfusion.

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