This study is the first worldwide randomized trial showing that one-quarter to one-third of all platelet transfusions were given unnecessarily in the past and can be reduced in the future without any harm to patients following high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation, according to Dr. Wandt. MD, at the Klinikum Nuremberg Nord, Nuremberg, Germany.
In this multicenter, randomized trial, the researchers found that the development of major bleeding following high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant can be prevented through an experimental therapeutic strategy in which patients receive platelet transfusions only if they have experienced clinically relevant bleeding. The experimental strategy in this trial was compared with a traditional preventive transfusion strategy in which patients received a transfusion if platelet counts were less than or equal to 10/nL. The researchers concluded that the experimental strategy was both cost effective and safe in this patient population.
A total of 171 patients who had recently received high-dose chemotherapy or autologous stem cell transplant for the treatment of various hematologic cancers, including multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin disease, and acute leukemia, were randomized to one of two treatment arms: a traditional arm that received preventive platelet transfusions or an experimental arm that was treated only if the patient had experienced signs of clinically relevant bleeding. The primary objective of the study was the reduction of platelet transfusions by 15 to 25 percent. Secondary objectives included safety, duration of leukopenia and thrombocytopenia, and the number of red blood cell transfusions.
Platelet transfusions were significantly reduced by 27 percent in the experimental arm as compared with the traditional arm. In the experimental arm, 46 percent of patients did not need any platelet transfusions, compared with 22 percent of patients in the traditional arm. Using clinically relevant bleeding as the trigger for platelet transfusions rather than using platelet counts of less than or equal to 10/nL as the trigger resulted in more minor hemorrhages occurring in the experimental arm as compared with the traditional arm (28.7 percent versus 9.5 percent); however, no life-threatening or fatal bleeding was reported. The duration of leukopenia and the need for red blood cell transfusions were the same in both arms.
Last editorial review: December 9, 2008.
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