Leukoreduction: Viral transmission

Clinical - Hematologic

To prevent or at least decrease these adverse side effects, leukoreduction is utilized, removing > 99.99% of donor leukocytes via filtration. This filtration, called pre-storage leukoreduction, occurs shortly after donation and processing of the blood unit. There is also an option to perform leukoreduction filtration just prior to transfusion or at the patient’s bedside, this being referred to as post-storage leukoreduction. However, most data suggests that pre-storage leukoreduction is more effective for a variety of reasons. Pre-storage leukoreduction is performed by the blood supplier (i.e. Red Cross), while post-storage leukoreduction is performed by hospitals.

The anticipated benefit of reducing the transmission of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has not born out in the literature to date.

  • Purported Benefits: reduce the transmission of CMV, HTLV I or EBV; reduce febrile transfusion reactions
  • Prevalence: universal in Canada, Western Europe (including United Kingdom). More than 50% of units in the United States
  • Data: universal leukoreduction cannot be supported. “Can’t hurt, may help” mentality must be balanced by increased costs


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