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Red blood cells, irradiated, each unit

HCPCS code

Name of the Procedure:

Red Blood Cells, Irradiated, Each Unit (P9038) Common names: Irradiated Red Blood Cells


Irradiated red blood cell transfusion involves the administration of red blood cells that have been treated with radiation to inactivate any residual white blood cells. This procedure helps prevent certain complications in immunocompromised patients, such as transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease.


The primary goal of this procedure is to provide safe red blood cell transfusions to patients with compromised immune systems. By inactivating white blood cells, the risk of transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease is significantly reduced.


  • Patients with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants.
  • Individuals with congenital immune deficiencies.
  • Patients receiving transfusions from blood relatives to prevent immune reactions.


  • No specific fasting or major preparations are typically required.
  • Inform your healthcare provider about any medications or supplements you are taking.
  • Blood testing to determine blood type and compatibility.

Procedure Description

  1. Blood is drawn from the donor and processed to separate red blood cells.
  2. The red blood cells are then exposed to controlled levels of radiation.
  3. Irradiated red blood cells are stored in blood bags ready for transfusion.
  4. The patient receives the transfusion intravenously, which involves inserting a needle into a vein.


The transfusion process itself typically takes about 1-4 hours per unit.


This procedure is usually performed in a hospital, outpatient clinic, or a specialized infusion center.


  • Registered nurses specializing in transfusions.
  • Hematologists or oncologists overseeing the procedure.
  • Technicians handling the irradiation and preparation of blood products.

Risks and Complications

  • Common: Minor allergic reactions, fever.
  • Rare: More severe immune reactions, transfusion-related infections, iron overload with repeated transfusions.
  • Management of complications involves monitoring and medications to address symptoms.


  • Reduced risk of transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease.
  • Improved oxygen-carrying capacity for patients with low red blood cell counts.
  • Rapid improvement in symptoms associated with anemia.


  • Post-procedure monitoring for adverse reactions, typically for a few hours.
  • Patients can usually resume normal activities shortly afterwards.
  • Follow-up appointments may be needed to monitor blood counts and overall health.


  • Leukocyte-reduced red blood cells, which are filtered to remove white blood cells.
  • Autologous blood transfusions, where patients receive their own stored blood.
  • Discuss with your healthcare provider to understand the best option for your condition.

Patient Experience

  • You might feel a needle prick when the IV is inserted.
  • During the transfusion, you could feel a bit chilly or warm, but discomfort is generally minimal.
  • Pain management is rarely needed, but comfortable positioning and warm blankets can help increase comfort during the procedure.

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