Red cell survival

Last updated: Thursday, 25, March, 2004

Rarely used and probably obsolete.

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Item Process
Specimen

In vivo method requires patient to attend at intervals for 1-4 weeks.

Method

Patient’s red cells labelled with radioactive isotope (51Cr) and re-injected.

Samples collected at regular intervals for up to 4 weeks.

Reference Interval

Red cell half-life: 25-35 days
Mean red cell life span: 120 ± 15 days.

Application

Rarely indicated for the documentation of haemolysis.

Occasionally used to test survival of transfused red cells in face of major problems in compatibility testing.

Interpretation

Reduced red cell survival in the absence of blood loss confirms haemolysis.

Surface counting may also be used to indicate the site of red cell destruction (spleen or liver).

Reference

ICSH. Br J Haematol 1971; 21: 241-250.