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Red blood cells, washed, each unit

HCPCS code

Name of the Procedure:

Common Name: Washed Red Blood Cells
Technical Term: Washed Packed Red Blood Cells


Washed red blood cells are blood cells that have been cleaned to remove most of the plasma and white blood cells. This procedure helps reduce the risk of allergic reactions and other complications during a blood transfusion.


Medical Conditions: Allergic reactions to plasma proteins, recurrent febrile non-hemolytic transfusion reactions, severe IgA deficiency, and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.
Goals: To provide safe blood transfusion by minimizing the risk of transfusion-related complications such as allergic reactions and febrile non-hemolytic reactions.


  • History of severe allergic reactions to blood transfusions.
  • Patients with IgA deficiency.
  • Individuals with a history of febrile non-hemolytic transfusion reactions.
  • Patients requiring blood transfusions who have paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.


  • Pre-Procedure Instructions: No specific fasting required. Inform your healthcare provider about all medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs.
  • Diagnostic Tests: Complete blood count (CBC) and blood type and crossmatch may be conducted beforehand.

Procedure Description

  1. Collection: Blood is drawn from a donor.
  2. Washing: The red blood cells are separated from most of the plasma and white blood cells using a special centrifuge and saline solution.
  3. Transfusion: The cleaned red blood cells are then transfused into the patient through an IV line.
    • Tools/Equipment: Centrifuge, saline solution, IV line, infusion pump.
    • Anesthesia/Sedation: Not typically required.


The entire process from washing the cells to transfusion typically takes about 1 to 2 hours.


  • Hospital blood bank or transfusion center.
  • Performed in an outpatient or inpatient setting, depending on the patient's condition.


  • Transfusion medicine specialists.
  • Nurses.
  • Laboratory technicians.

Risks and Complications

  • Common Risks: Minor allergic reactions, fever, chills.
  • Rare Complications: Hemolytic transfusion reactions, infections, mild hypocalcemia.


  • Minimized risk of allergic and febrile reactions.
  • Improved safety and compatibility for patients with specific conditions.
  • Benefits are often noticed immediately after transfusion.


  • Post-Procedure Care: Monitor vital signs, ensure adequate hydration.
  • Expected Recovery Time: Immediate recovery for most patients, with some restrictions on physical activity depending on overall health.
  • Follow-up: Regular monitoring and potential follow-up blood tests.


  • Alternative Treatments: Standard blood transfusion without washing, leukocyte-reduced blood products.
  • Pros and Cons: Washed red blood cells are more suitable for patients with allergies to plasma proteins. Standard transfusions may be quicker and less expensive but carry higher risk of reactions in sensitive patients.

Patient Experience

  • During Procedure: Minimal to no discomfort from IV insertion.
  • After Procedure: Possible mild fatigue, which usually resolves quickly. Pain at IV site is rare and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relief if needed. Comfort measures include warm blankets and hydration.

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