Non-invasive assessment of muscle oxygenation may aid in optimising transfusion threshold decisions in ambulatory paediatric patients

Transfus Med. 2017 Feb;27(1):25-29. doi: 10.1111/tme.12384. Epub 2017 Jan 10.


Objective: To assess the potential utility of a novel non-invasive muscle oxygen measurement to determine the presence of muscle hypoxia in patients with anaemia.

Background: Recent assessment of the risk/benefit ratio of blood transfusion has led to clinical strategies optimising transfusion decisions. These decisions are primarily based on haematocrit (Hct) but not oxygen delivery, the primary function of red blood cells (RBCs). We hypothesised that muscle oxygenation (MOx) would correlate with Hct in patients with anaemia and may be a physiologically relevant determinant of the transfusion threshold.

Methods/materials: MOx was non-invasively determined in children in the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center ambulatory clinic at Seattle Children's Hospital using a custom-designed optical probe and spectrometer. MOx was compared with contemporaneous Hct. In subjects receiving RBCs, MOx and Hct were also determined following transfusion.

Results: MOx ranged from 36·7 to 100%, and Hct ranged from 17·0 to 38·6% in 27 measurements from 16 patients. High MOx values were associated with high Hct. Mean MOx for patients with normal Hct for age (n = 5) was 95·9 ± 2·9%. RBC transfusion increased mean Hct from 19·1 ± 1·5% to 29·3 ± 2·0 and mean MOx from 67·9 ± 21·1% to 89·9 ± 9·8%. Among six transfusion episodes (in five patients) with initial Hct < 22, only three had a pre-transfusion MOx of <70%. Patients with the lowest pre-transfusion MOx had the largest increase in MOx after transfusion.

Conclusions: These preliminary data suggest that MOx may aid in making transfusion decisions when used in combination with Hct.

Keywords: anaemia; muscle oxygenation; optical spectroscopy; red blood cell transfusion.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia / blood*
  • Anemia / physiopathology
  • Anemia / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / blood*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption*


  • Oxygen