Health Questions and Answers

Question: What is the good rule of thumb for blood transfusions in patient with GI bleeding?


A good rule of thumb is that blood transfusions should be given as quickly as the patient has lost blood. For example, if the patient presents with massive hematochezia and is hemodynamically compromised, packed red blood cells should be given as quickly as possible. On the other hand, the patient who presents with iron deficiency anemia, hemoccult positive stools, and stable vital signs may not require blood transfusions at all. Once the patient has been stabilized, a search can be carried out to localize the source of bleeding and perform any indicated endoscopic therapy.

Reference: Sleisenger MH, Fordtran JS (eds): Gastrointestinal Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Management, 7th ed. Philadelphia, W.B. Saunders, 2003.

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