Intraoperative cell salvage in South Africa: Feasible, beneficial and economical

  • L Solomon
  • RP von Rahden
  • NL Allorto


Background. Healthcare services in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) frequently experience shortages of blood products. Alternatives to traditional blood sources are needed. One possibility is cell salvage and autologous blood transfusion. Few data exist relating to their use in the South African context.
Objectives. To ascertain whether cell salvage (CS) is beneficial, feasible and economical in our setting, with the anticipation that results would excite further studies and potentially change current practice and improve existing protocols.
Methods. This study reviewed current intraoperative Cell Saver use at Grey’s and Edendale hospitals in Pietermaritzburg, KZN. Current practices were observed and compared with the costs of the equivalent amount of red cell concentrate (RCC) purchased from the South African National Blood Service (SANBS). All cases of Cell Saver usage over a 1-year period from July 2012 to June 2013 were analysed.
Results. The total volume of blood transfused from CS was 55 735 ml, approximately equivalent to 186 RCC units. The comparative cost of equivalent units of RCC from SANBS was R258 445. The total cost of Cell Saver disposables during the study period was R206 047, or R263 478 when Cell Saver machine depreciation costs were included. More than one CS blood unit was available for transfusion in 66% of cases. No additional staff were required to operate the Cell Saver, which was successfully used by medical officers.
Conclusions. This study showed that intraoperative CS use is feasible, has potential patient benefit by reducing blood bank blood transfusion, and is financially comparable to purchasing the equivalent number of SANBS RCC.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135