Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 154, Issue 7, pp 1303–1308 | Cite as

Red blood cell transfusion in neurosurgery

  • Stefan Linsler
  • Ralf Ketter
  • Hermann Eichler
  • Karsten Schwerdtfeger
  • Wolf-Ingo Steudel
  • Joachim Oertel
Clinical Article



The necessity of red blood cell (RBC) transfusions in neurosurgical procedures is under debate. Although detailed recommendations exist for many other surgical disciplines, there are very limited data on the probability of transfusions during neurosurgical procedures.


Three-thousand and twenty-six consecutive adult patients undergoing neurosurgical procedures at Saarland University Hospital from December 2006 to June 2008 were retrospectively analyzed for administration of RBCs. The patients were grouped into 11 main diagnostic categories for analysis. The transfusion probability and cross-match to transfusion ratio (C/T ratio) were calculated.


Overall, the transfusion probability for neurosurgical procedures was 1.7 % (52/3,026). The probability was 6.5 % for acute subdural hematoma (7/108), 6.2 % for spinal tumors (5/80), 4.6 % for intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH, 4/98), 2.8 % for abscess (3/108), 2.4 % for traumatic brain injury (4/162), 2.3 % for cerebral ischemia (1/44), 1.9 % for subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) /aneurysms (4/206), 1.4 % for brain tumors (10/718), 0.8 % for hydrocephalus (2/196), 0.4 % for degenerative diseases of the spine (5/1290), including 3.6 % (3/82) for posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) and 0 % for epidural hematoma (0/15). The transfusion probabilities for clipping and coiling of SAH were 2.9 % (2/68) and 1.7 % (2/120) respectively.


The probability of blood transfusion during neurosurgical procedures is well below the 10 % level which is generally defined as the limit for preoperative appropriation of RBCs. Patients with spinal tumors, acute subdural hematomas or ICH, i.e., patients undergoing large decompressive procedures of bone or soft tissue, had a higher probability of transfusion.


Neurosurgical procedures Red blood cells Transfusion C/T ratio 



The authors thank the stuff of the neurosurgical ICU of the Saarland University/Homburg for the documentation of the ordered blood products in all cases and to Rosemary collier who provided editing support..

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Linsler
    • 1
  • Ralf Ketter
    • 1
  • Hermann Eichler
    • 2
  • Karsten Schwerdtfeger
    • 1
  • Wolf-Ingo Steudel
    • 1
  • Joachim Oertel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgerySaarland UniversityHomburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of HemostaseologySaarland UniversityHomburgGermany

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