RBC transfusion induced ST segment variability following the Norwood procedure


Department of Pediatrics, The Heart Institute, Advocate Children's Hospital


The transfusion of stored RBCs decreases nitric oxide bioavailability, which may have an adverse effect on vascular function. We assessed the effects of RBC transfusion on coronary vascular function by evaluating the relationship between myocardial oxygen delivery and demand as evidenced by ST segment variability.

Design: Retrospective case-control study.

Setting: Nine-hundred seventy-three-bed pediatric hospital with a 54-bed cardiovascular ICU.

Patients: Seventy-three neonates with hypoplastic left heart syndrome following the Norwood procedure, 38 with a Blalock-Taussig shunt and 35 with a right ventricle to pulmonary artery shunt.

Interventions: RBC transfusion.

Materials and Main Results: High-frequency physiologic data were captured 30 minutes prior to the initiation of (baseline) and during the 120 minutes of the transfusion. A rate pressure product was calculated for each subject and used as an indicator of myocardial oxygen demand. Electrocardiogram leads (aVL, V1, II) were used to construct a 3D ST segment vector to assess ST segment variability and functioned as a surrogate indicator of myocardial ischemia. One-hundred thirty-eight transfusions occurred in the Blalock-Taussig shunt group and 139 in the right ventricle to pulmonary artery shunt group. There was no significant change in the rate pressure product for either group; however, ST segment variability progressively increased for the entire cohort during the transfusion, becoming statistically significant by the end of the transfusion. Upon subgroup analysis, this finding was noted with statistical significance in the Blalock-Taussig shunt group and trending toward significance in the right ventricle to pulmonary artery shunt group.

Conclusions: We found a significant increase in the ST segment variability and evidence of myocardial ischemia temporally associated with RBC transfusions in neonates following the Norwood procedure, specifically among those in the Blalock-Taussig shunt group, which may impact immediate and long-term outcomes.

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