Your nameFriend's name
Your emailFriend's email

The development and implementation of an obstetric cell salvage service

Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia


Cell salvage in obstetric haemorrhage is now endorsed by a number of organisations. Most of the literature has focused on isolated case series and safety. We describe how cell salvage, including a quality assurance process conducted prior to clinical implementation, was introduced to our stand-alone obstetric hospital which had no previous experience of this technique.
An implementation committee was established and 25 quality assurance and familiarisation cases were initially conducted. As part of this process the alpha fetoprotein, haematocrit, free plasma haemoglobin, potassium and Kleihauer tests were performed when enough blood was available for processing. Our guidelines for clinical use included women at greatly increased risk of obstetric haemorrhage and women at increased risk of haemorrhage who refused traditional transfusion. After the successful completion of this process, cell salvage was signed off for clinical use in March 2007 and was used on 51 occasions between March 2007 and July 2009. Twenty-one patients had salvaged blood re-transfused and for seven patients this was their only red blood cell replacement. The median blood loss in patients re-transfused was 3000 ml (range <500 to 8500 ml), with the median volume re-transfused 359 ml (range 60 to 1300 ml). There was one episode of unexplained hypotension associated with administration of salvaged blood.
We have successfully introduced obstetric cell salvage into clinical practice. A quality assurance process prior to implementation was beneficial for the staff involved. Despite targeting a high-risk obstetric population, our re-transfusion rates are approximately 40%. No serious adverse events have been recorded. We recommend that in units that already provide intraoperative cell salvage in a non-obstetric setting, extending the service into obstetric situations should be considered. Units that routinely care for high-risk obstetric patients should also consider the introduction of such a service. Post transfusion Kleihauer testing should be performed as soon as possible in Rhesus-negative mothers who deliver a Rhesus-positive foetus, so that appropriate anti-D prophylaxis can be administered.

ASA member / Anaesthesia and Intensive Care subscriber

If you are a member of the ASA or subscribe to the Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Journal please login to view entire article.

Register for free access

Please register for free access to this article.

Already registered

Click here to login now.