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Patients with gastrointestinal (GI) haemorrhage use 13.8% of all red blood cell transfusions in England. This review addresses the evidence for red blood cell, fresh frozen plasma and platelet transfusions in acute and chronic blood loss, from both the upper and lower intestinal tract. It reviews the indications for transfusion in GI bleeding, the haematological consequences of massive blood loss and massive transfusion, and the importance of managing coagulopathy in bleeding patients. It also looks at the safety and risks of blood transfusion, and provides clinicians with evidence to reduce unnecessary transfusion. Large controlled clinical trials of blood transfusion specifically in GI bleeding are required, along with further research into the use of adjuvant therapies such as recombinant activated factor VIIa. Changing clinician behaviour to reduce inappropriate blood transfusion remains a key target for future transfusion research.

Original publication




Journal article


Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol

Publication Date





355 - 371


Acute Disease, Blood Transfusion, Chronic Disease, Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage, Humans, Resuscitation, Safety, Transfusion Reaction