Improving the bacteriological safety of platelet transfusions
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Despite the increased application of aseptic techniques for blood collection and the preparation of platelet concentrates, morbidity and mortality arising from the transfusion of bacterially contaminated allogeneic platelet products persist. This problem exists because stored platelet concentrates represent a nearly ideal growth medium for bacteria and because they are stored at temperatures (22 degrees +/- 2 degrees C) that facilitate bacterial growth. The presence of bacteria in blood components including platelets has been a problem for many decades and currently is the most common microbiological cause of transfusion-associated morbidity and mortality. A variety of strategies have been devised and/or proposed in an attempt to try to reduce the risk of transfusion-associated sepsis. These include pretransfusion bacterial detection, efforts to reduce the likelihood of bacterial contamination, the optimization of blood product processing and storage, reducing recipient exposure, and the introduction of pathogen inactivation methodology. With regard to doing bacterial detection, a number of automated detection systems have become available to test for contaminated platelet components, but their utility to some extent is restricted by the time they take to indicate the presence of bacteria and/or their lack of sensitivity to detect initially low bacterial loads. A variety of other approaches has been shown to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination and include filtration to remove leukocytes and bacteria, diversion of the initial aliquot of blood during donation, and improved donor skin disinfection. Platelet pathogen inactivation methods under investigation include the addition of L-carnitine, gamma-irradiation, riboflavin plus UVA irradiation, and amotosalen HCl plus UVA irradiation. The latter process is licensed for clinical use with platelets in some countries in Europe. All of these approaches, either collectively or individually, hold considerable promise that the prevalence of adverse events associated with bacteria in platelet products will decline significantly in the very foreseeable future.
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