Whole blood in the management of hypovolemia due to obstetric hemorrhage

Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Jun;113(6):1320-1326. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181a4b390.


Objective: To study the use of blood products including whole blood, for the management of obstetric hemorrhage requiring transfusion.

Methods: This was a population-based, observational study of all women receiving blood for hypovolemia because of hemorrhage at the Parkland obstetrics service between March 24, 2002, and June 12, 2006. Hypovolemia was diagnosed in women who sustained hemorrhages sufficient enough to provoke hemodynamic instability.

Results: A total of 66,369 women gave birth during the study period, and 1,540 (2.3%) received a blood transfusion. Six hundred fifty-nine (43%) received only whole blood, 593 (39%) received only packed red blood cells, and 288 (19%) received combinations of blood products, including thawed plasma, platelets, and cryoprecipitate. The number of units transfused was similar in the whole blood and packed red blood cell groups (mean 2 units) and higher in the combination group (mean 5.5 units). Complications attributable to hypovolemia were similar in frequency in the whole blood and packed red blood cells groups, including intensive care unit admission (1%), hypofibrinogenemia (0.3%), and adult respiratory syndrome (0.5% compared with .3%). Acute tubular necrosis was more common in the packed red blood cell group (2% compared with 0.3%, P<.001). All of these outcomes were increased in the combination transfusion group. There were three maternal deaths in the cohort, two in the combination group and one in the packed red blood cells group.

Conclusion: The risk of acute tubular necrosis is significantly reduced in women receiving whole blood transfusion for hypovolemia due to obstetric hemorrhage.

Level of evidence: III.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Component Transfusion
  • Blood Transfusion / methods*
  • Female
  • Fibrinogen / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hypovolemia / complications
  • Hypovolemia / etiology
  • Hypovolemia / therapy*
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Kidney Tubular Necrosis, Acute / etiology
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / etiology


  • Fibrinogen