Why Implement Universal Leukoreduction?

Hematol Oncol Stem Cell Ther. Apr-Jun 2008;1(2):106-23. doi: 10.1016/s1658-3876(08)50042-2.


The improvement of transfusion medicine technology is an ongoing process primarily directed at increasing the safety of allogeneic blood component transfusions for recipients. Over the years, relatively little attention had been paid to the leukocytes present in the various blood components. The availability of leukocyte removal (leukoreduction) techniques for blood components is associated with a considerable improvement in various clinical outcomes. These include a reduction in the frequency and severity of febrile transfusion reactions, reduced cytomegalovirus transfusion-transmission risk, the reduced incidence of alloimmune platelet refractoriness, a possible reduction in the risk of transfusion-associated variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease transmission, as well as reducing the overall risk of both recipient mortality and organ dysfunction, particularly in cardiac surgery patients and possibly in other categories of patients. Internationally, 19 countries have implemented universal leukocyte reduction (ULR) as part of their blood safety policy. The main reason for not implementing ULR in those countries that have not appears to be primarily concerns over costs. Nonetheless, the available international experience supports the concept that ULR is a process that results in improved safety of allogeneic blood components.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Transfusion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infections / transmission
  • Leukocyte Reduction Procedures / methods
  • Leukocyte Reduction Procedures / standards
  • Leukocyte Reduction Procedures / statistics & numerical data*