The effect of blood transfusion on sublingual microcirculation in critically ill patients: A scoping review

Wanglin Liu, Huaiwu He, Can Ince, Yun Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle*Academicpeer-review


Purpose: To investigate the effects of red blood cell (RBC) transfusion on sublingual microcirculation in critically ill patients. Methods: Systematic strategy was conducted to search studies that measured sublingual microcirculation before and after transfusion in critically ill patients. This review was reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses Scoping Review Extension. Results: The literature search yielded 114 articles. A total of 11 studies met the inclusion criteria. Observational evidence showed diffusive capacity of the microcirculation significantly improved in intraoperative and anemic hematologic patients after transfusion, while the convective parameters significantly improved in traumatic patients. RBC transfusion improved both diffusive and convective microcirculatory parameters in hypovolemic hemorrhagic shock patients. Most of the studies enrolled septic patients showed no microcirculatory improvements after transfusion. The positive effects of the leukoreduction were insufficiently supported. The effects of the storage time of the RBCs were not conclusive. The majority of the evidence supported a negative correlation between baseline proportion of perfused vessels (PPV) and changes in PPV. Conclusions: This scoping review has catalogued evidence that RBC transfusion differently improves sublingual microcirculation in different populations. The existing evidence is not sufficient to conclude the effects of the leukoreduction and storage time of RBCs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12666
JournalMicrocirculation (New York, N.Y.
Issue number3
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • critically ill
  • leukoreduced
  • red blood cell transfusion
  • scoping review
  • sublingual microcirculation

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