Blood components

Whole blood is separated into its different cellular and plasmatic components and processed within several hours of donation. Processing is being continuously improved in order to reduce contaminating cells and plasma. Numerous processing steps are applied which influence the purity, side-effects, storage time, etc. Preparation procedures, standard blood components and indications vary considerably among and within different countries. Because of considerable disadvantages associated with the transfusion of whole blood, its use has almost been aban doned. Blood components are often administered on empirical grounds, when clinical studies to validate their use are lacking, to substitute specifically those constituents of the patients' blood which fall below the minimal tolerable threshold. During hemorrhage or hemolysis the oxygen-carrying capacity of erythrocytes must be replaced first, in addition to intravascular volume. After further blood loss the substitution of plasma and platelets to restore plasmatic and thrombocytic coagulation activity may also be required (Table 1).

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