BACKGROUND: Transfusion of red blood cells is associated with superficial vein thrombosis (SVT) and venous thromboembolism (deep vein thrombosis and/or pulmonary embolism, VTE). The present study investigated the prevalence of SVT and VTE in women transfused in the peri-partum period.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We carried out an observational study in a tertiary level obstetrics department in the Apulia Region of Southern Italy to investigate VTE in women transfused during or after labour. The study included all women who delivered between January 1st and November 30th, 2018. A thrombotic event was defined as an admission with an ICD-9 code of SVT and VTE as a primary or secondary diagnosis. Maternal "near-miss" rate, as defined by the World Health Organization, was calculated and outcome of transfused women was recorded.
RESULTS: From January 1st to November 30th, a total of 1,028 women delivered, 39% of them by caesarean section (CS). One-hundred and thirty-two women (12.8%) had been classified with one or more complication codes. Most complications occurred in women who underwent CS with an odds ratio (OR) of 7.0 (95% CI: 4.0-12.5; p=0.000). Twelve women (1.2%) were transfused in the peri-partum period, 7 of them had delivered by CS. The only thrombotic events recorded in the entire cohort of 1,028 patients were isolated pulmonary embolisms observed in 2 out of 12 transfused women. Overall, patients had received a mean of 7.5 units of packed red blood cells (1 patient also received 7 plasma units, while 1 patient also received 1 platelet unit). Consequently, the near-miss rate was 2.0/1,000 deliveries, which is not significantly different from that expected in Italy and in high-income countries.
CONCLUSIONS: Pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening complication, which can be associated with transfusion in the peri-partum period.