The Importance of the Rinseback Procedure at Canadian Blood Services

Dr. Travis Sztainert

Canadian Blood Services works to provide a steady supply of blood and blood products for Canadian patients in need. Frequent blood and platelet donors have played a significant role in sustaining this supply. As such, Canadian Blood Services, along with other Canadian and international blood operators, conduct research on donation processes and donor wellness, such as a recent study on plateletpheresis-associated lymphopenia. A recent study was conducted by the Biomedical Excellence for Safer Transfusion (BEST) collaborative, which includes Canadian Blood Services researchers: Senior Scientist Jason Acker, Medical Director Tanya Petraszko and research associates Carly Olafson and Katherine Serrano. This study delved into plateletpheresis-associated lymphopenia, highlighting the importance of a specific procedure - the rinseback procedure - in mitigating its effects. 

Understanding Plateletpheresis-Associated Lymphopenia 

Plateletpheresis is a procedure used to collect platelets, an essential component of blood that plays a crucial role in clotting and healing. While the procedure allows for the frequent collection of platelets, previous research found it has been associated  with, in rare cases, a condition known as plateletpheresis-associated lymphopenia, characterized by abnormal lymphocyte counts. The BEST study aimed to better understand the risk factors for plateletpheresis-associated lymphopenia.  

The BEST study results suggested that age, lifetime donations, and the choice of plateletpheresis instrument were identified as independent risk factors for lymphopenia. The critical finding of this study was that plasma rinseback appeared to mitigate the development of lymphopenia in frequent, long-term platelet donors. When plasma rinseback was routinely performed, none of the donors experienced lymphopenia in contrast to other sites where the rinseback was not employed. 

Understanding Rinseback 

Plasma rinseback is a procedure used to return a portion of the donor's plasma from the tubing at the end of the procedure back to the donor which contains many of the lymphocytes that would otherwise be lost. This practice, implemented by Canadian Blood Services (CBS), helps prevent lymphopenia in frequent platelet donors, offering an effective solution to an issue experienced by other plateletpheresis centers. By performing plasma rinseback, Canadian Blood Services reduces the rare occurrence of lymphopenia in our generous platelet donors. We would like to thank all donors who contributed to this important research. 

Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation 

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact.  

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.