A study presented at the 36th International ISBT (International Society of Blood Transfusion) congress compared X-ray and Gamma irradiation and the effects on the vitro quality of stored red cell and platelet components:
“There are a number of clinical indications where evidence supports the irradiation of blood components to inactivate cells to prevent transfusion-associated graft versus host disease. Gamma irradiators use a radioactive source, and are subject to rigorous health, safety, and compliance regulations due to the risks of nefarious or accidental dispersal. The effects of irradiation on red cell and platelet components are well known, however there is little or no data comparing the effects of X- and gamma irradiation on red cell and platelet component quality, or their ability to inactivate cells.The aim is to compare the in vitro quality of stored red cell components (standard, paediatric, washed and intra-uterine transfusion (IUT)) and platelet components (buffy-coat and apheresis) following X- or gamma irradiation, and to compare the ability of X- and gamma-irradiation to inactivate lymphocytes in blood components.”1
In summary and as a conclusion it was stated: „X- and gamma-irradiation have similar effects on the in vitro quality of stored blood components, and both effectively inactivate lymphocytes, indicating that either technology is suitable for blood component irradiation.“1 (Read the full conference paper)
Although both methods show similar outcomes, the worldwide trend has shifted from Gamma to X-ray. “There is international interest in moving away from using radioactive sources for gamma irradiation due to concerns with respect to biosecurity.“2 Therefore, gamma blood irradiators are increasingly being replaced by stand-alone X-ray irradiator machines worldwide.