Physical and thermal properties of blood storage bags: Implications for shipping frozen components on dry ice

  • Hmel P
  • Kennedy A
  • Quiles J
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND: Frozen blood components are shipped on dry ice. The lower temperature (–70°C in contrast to usual storage at –30°C) and shipping conditions may cause a rent in the storage bag, breaking sterility and rendering the unit useless. The rate of loss can reach 50 to 80 percent. To identify those bags with lower probability of breaking during shipment, the thermal and physical properties of blood storage bags were examined. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Blood storage bags were obtained from several manufacturers and were of the following compositions: PVC with citrate, di-2-ethyl- hexylphthalate (DEHP), or tri-2-ethylhexyl-tri-mellitate (TEHTM) plasticizer; polyolefin (PO); poly(ethylene-co- vinyl acetate) (EVA); or fluorinated polyethylene propyl- ene (FEP). The glass transition temperature (Tg) of each storage bag was determined. Bag thickness and measures of material strength (tensile modulus [MT] and time to achieve 0.5 percent strain [T0.5%]) were evalu- ated. MT and T0.5% measurements were made at 25 and –70°C. Response to applied force at –70°C was measured using an impact testing device and a drop test. RESULTS: The Tg of the bags fell into two groups: 70 to 105°C (PO, FEP) and –50 to –17°C (PVC with plasti- cizer, EVA). Bag thickness ranged from 0.14 to 0.41 mm. Compared to other materials, the ratios of MT and T0.5% for PVC bags were increased (p ? 0.001) indicat- ing that structural changes for PVC were more pro- nounced upon cooling from 25 to −70°C. Bags contain- ing EVA were more shock resistant, resulting in the lowest rate of breakage (10% breakage) when com- pared with PO (60% breakage, p = 0.0573) or PVC (100% breakage, p = 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Blood storage bags made of EVA ap- pear better suited for shipping frozen blood components on dry ice and are cost-effective replacements for PVC bags. For the identification of blood storage bags meet- ing specific storage requirements, physical and thermal analyses of blood storage bags may be useful and re- move empiricism from the process. 836

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