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01.12.2019 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

BMC Pulmonary Medicine 1/2019

Anemia and red blood cell transfusion practice in prolonged mechanically ventilated patients admitted to a specialized weaning center: an observational study

BMC Pulmonary Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2019
Alessandro Ghiani, Alexandros Sainis, Georgios Sainis, Claus Neurohr
Wichtige Hinweise
This work was performed at the Schillerhoehe Lung Clinic, Gerlingen (Germany).

Supplementary information

Supplementary information accompanies this paper at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12890-019-1009-1.

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The impact of anemia and red blood cell (RBC) transfusion on weaning from mechanical ventilation is not known. In theory, transfusions could facilitate liberation from the ventilator by improving oxygen transport capacity. In contrast, retrospective studies of critically ill patients showed a positive correlation of transfusions with prolonged mechanical ventilation, increased mortality rates, and increased risk of nosocomial infections, which in turn could adversely affect weaning outcome.


Retrospective, observational study on prolonged mechanically ventilated, tracheotomized patients (n = 378), admitted to a national weaning center over a 5 year period. Medical records were reviewed to obtain data on patients’ demographics, comorbidities, blood counts, transfusions, weaning outcome, and nosocomial infections, defined according to the criteria of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The impact of RBC transfusion on outcome measures was assessed using regression models.


Ninety-eight percent of all patients showed anemia on admission to the weaning center. Transfused and non-transfused patients differed significantly regarding disease severity and comorbidities. In multivariate analyses, RBC transfusion, but not mean hemoglobin concentration in the course of weaning, was independently correlated with weaning duration (adjusted β 12.386, 95% CI 9.335–15.436; p <  0.001) and hospital length of stay (adjusted β 16.116, 95% CI 8.925–23.306; p <  0.001); there was also a trend toward increased hospital mortality (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2.050, 95% CI 0.995–4.224; p = 0.052), but there was no independent correlation with weaning outcome or nosocomial infections. In contrast, hemoglobin level on the day of admission to the weaning center was independently associated with hospital mortality (adjusted OR 0.956, 95% CI 0.924–0.989; p = 0.010), appearing significantly elevated at values below 8.5 g/dl (AUC 0.670, 95% CI 0.593–0.747; p <  0.001).


A high percentage of prolonged mechanically ventilated patients showed anemia on admission to the weaning center. RBC transfusion was independently correlated with worse outcomes. Since transfused patients differed significantly regarding their clinical characteristics and comorbidities, RBC transfusion might be an indicator of disease severity rather than directly impacting patient prognosis.
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