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Aneurysmal SubArachnoid Hemorrhage—Red Blood Cell Transfusion And Outcome (SAHaRA): a pilot randomised controlled trial protocol


Introduction Anaemia is common in aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage (aSAH) and is a potential critical modifiable factor affecting secondary injury. Despite physiological evidence and management guidelines that support maintaining a higher haemoglobin level in patients with aSAH, current practice is one of a more restrictive approach to transfusion. The goal of this multicentre pilot trial is to determine the feasibility of successfully conducting a red blood cell (RBC) transfusion trial in adult patients with acute aSAH and anaemia (Hb ≤100 g/L), comparing a liberal transfusion strategy (Hb ≤100 g/L) with a restrictive strategy (Hb ≤80 g/L) on the combined rate of death and severe disability at 12 months.

Methods Design This is a multicentre open-label randomised controlled pilot trial at 5 academic tertiary care centres. Population We are targeting adult aSAH patients within 14 days of their initial bleed and with anaemia (Hb ≤110 g/L). Randomisation Central computer-generated randomisation, stratified by centre, will be undertaken from the host centre. Randomisation into 1 of the 2 treatment arms will occur when the haemoglobin levels of eligible patients fall to ≤100 g/L. Intervention Patients will be randomly assigned to either a liberal (threshold: Hb ≤100 g/L) or a restrictive transfusion strategy (threshold: Hb ≤80 g/L). Outcome Primary: Centre randomisation rate over the study period. Secondary: (1) transfusion threshold adherence; (2) study RBC transfusion protocol adherence; and (3) outcome assessment including vital status at hospital discharge, modified Rankin Score at 6 and 12 months and Functional Independence Measure and EuroQOL Quality of Life Scale scores at 12 months. Outcome measures will be reported in aggregate.

Ethics and dissemination The study protocol has been approved by the host centre (OHSN-REB 20150433-01H). This study will determine the feasibility of conducting the large pragmatic RCT comparing 2 RBC transfusion strategies examining the effect of a liberal strategy on 12-month outcome following aSAH.

Trial registration number NCT02483351; Pre-results.


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  • Contributors SWE, LAM, DF, MC and AFT conceived the project idea. SWE, LAM, DF, MC, AFT, FL, DG, AA, AK, AT, CL, JS, SM, DD, AB and GP all contributed substantially to the design of the trial and drafting of the protocol. SWE created the first draft of this submission and all authors have provided critical review and approve of this final version.

  • Funding This work is supported by a Transfusion Science research grant awarded by a Canadian Blood Services and Health Canada in partnership with Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health, competition code 201503OTS.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ottawa Health Sciences Network Research Ethics Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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