The infant is laid on his or her back, usually under a radiant warmer. The umbilical vein is catheterized with a fluid-filled catheter. The catheter is connected to an exchange transfusion set, incorporating lines to and from a waste container and a pack of donor blood. These are connected by means of a four-way stopcock, to which is also attached the syringe used to remove and replenish the infant's blood. The exchange transfusion now goes ahead in cycles, each of a few minutes duration. Slowly the infant's blood is withdrawn, and the fresh, pre-warmed blood or plasma is injected. After the exchange transfusion, an umbilical catheter may be left in place in case the procedure needs to be repeated within a few hours.
Updated by: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2015, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.