Post-transfusion hemoglobin response in patients with cirrhosis: Can we expect a 1 g/dL rise per unit transfused?

Nicholas Noverati, Elizabeth Federici, Thomas R. Riley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: A patientʼs hemoglobin is typically expected to rise by 1 g/dL/unit transfused PRBCs. However, it has been theorized that mechanisms such as hyperbilirubinemia and splenomegaly might lead to either a direct lysis or sequestration of red blood cells that could decrease this proportionate response. Study Design and Methods: Patients with resolved GI bleeding but still requiring transfusion to correct anemia were compared in cirrhosis and control groups. A retrospective chart review between 2015 and 2020 was conducted at a single institution. Data collected included age, sex, BMI, GI bleed diagnosis, number of PRBCs transfused, presence of splenomegaly and spleen size, alcohol use history, type of cirrhosis, MELD-Na at admission, GFR, and pre-and post-transfusion labs: total bilirubin, ALT, hemoglobin, hematocrit. A logic regression was performed for each group looking at which factors were associated with a successful response (defined as >0.9 g/dL hemoglobin per unit transfused). Results: Mean change in hemoglobin was 0.77 g/dL in patients with cirrhosis compared to 1.46 g/dL in patients without (P <.001, N = 103). Odds ratios for presence of splenomegaly (0.22, N = 78) and female sex (4.39, N = 102) in predicting adequate response (>0.9 g/dL/unit) were both significant (P =.002) as well as portal hypertensive bleed diagnosis (0.28, N = 85, P =.0015). Factors that did not contribute included: age, race, BMI, alcohol use, GFR, change in ALT, and change in total bilirubin. Conclusions: Patients with cirrhosis have an approximately 50% decreased response to transfusion with PRBCs after resolution of a gastrointestinal bleed in comparison to patients without cirrhosis. Risk factors included splenomegaly, portal hypertension, and male sex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-712
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Hematology


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