RhIg as a source of passive anti-D


Shulman IA, Calderon C, Nelson JM, Nakayama R. The routine use of Rh-negative reagent red cells for the identification of anti-D and the detection of non-D red cell antibodies. Transfusion 1994;34(8):666-70.


BACKGROUND: Before 1987, fewer than 50 patients per year at the authors' laboratory had a positive antibody detection test due to antepartum Rhesus immunoprophylaxis. However, after 1987, a marked increase was observed in the number of patients who had received Rh immune globulin (RhIG) during pregnancy as part of routine antepartum Rh immunoprophylaxis. In anticipation that an increased use of RhIG during pregnancy would increase the number of patients in whom anti-D was detected by this laboratory, a protocol was developed to abbreviate the process required to identify anti-D. Although this protocol was adopted primarily to address an anticipated increase in antenatal RhIG usage in women, it was also applied to alloimmunized Rh-negative males.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: When an Rh-negative patient (male or female) had a reactive screening test for unexpected antibodies and met certain other criteria, the patient's serum was tested with a three-vial set of Rh-negative reagent red cells (Rh-negative screening RBCs), instead of with panels of typed RBCs (panel RBCs), for the identification of anti-D or the detection of non-D antibodies. If the serum under test did not agglutinate or hemolyze Rh-negative screening RBCs, anti-D was identified and no further testing was performed. If the serum agglutinated or hemolyzed Rh-negative screening RBCs, conventional testing with panel RBCs was done to determine the antibody specificity.

RESULTS: Rh-negative patients (n = 1174) who had reactive screening tests for unexpected antibodies were tested with Rh-negative screening RBCs; 1079 were found to have anti-D as a single antibody. Seven of these patients subsequently developed a non-D alloantibody, after transfusion or pregnancy, and one patient had anti-C that escaped detection at the time of initial testing with Rh-negative RBCs (a false-negative result). Ninety-two patients had anti-D in combination with a non-D antibody, and three patients had a non-D antibody but not anti-D. Use of the anti-D identification protocol actually reduced the laboratory workload by 176 College of American Pathologists workload units per month, in spite of a marked increase in the number of patients in whom anti-D was detected. No hemolytic transfusion reaction was attributed to the abbreviation of anti-D identification.

CONCLUSION: The identification of anti-D may be abbreviated without jeopardizing patient safety. Such a protocol can reduce laboratory workload and might be particularly appealing to health care facilities that perform antibody detection testing on large numbers of Rh-negative pregnant women, especially if antepartum RhIG is administered routinely.

RhIg as a source of passive anti-D