Cryoprecipitate 101

Cryoprecipitate, or cryo for short, is a fresh frozen plasma (FFP)-derived concentrate including fibrinogen, factors VIII and XIII, von Willebrand factor, and fibronectin. Cryo contains only 40-50% of the coagulation factors found in a unit of plasma but is concentrated into a reduced 15-20 ml volume. Cryo is prepared from FFP as it is thawed slowly at 4° C. A precipitate forms at the bottom of the bag, which is then separated from the supernatant plasma. Cryo is stored frozen at at least 18° C and must be transfused within 6 hours of thawing or 4 hours of pooling. Each unit from a separate donor is suspended in 15 mL plasma prior to pooling.

Dose per unit



150-250 mg

100-150 hours

Von Willebrand factor

100-150 U

24 hours

Factor VIII

80-150 U

12 hours

Factor XIII

50-75 U

150-300 hours

Cryo is used most commonly for replacement of fibrinogen in patients that are bleeding or at increased risk of bleeding. Fibrinogen replacement may be indicated for hypofibrinogenemia (fibrinogen < 100 mg/dL) or dysfibrinogenemia. The target increase in fibrinogen level is 30-60 mg/dL in adults and 60-100 mg/dL in pediatric patients. Many institutions transfuse cryo prior to administration of factor VIIa concentrate to ensure adequate fibrinogen for clot formation given the cost and short half-life of factor VIIa of about 4 hours. Fibrinogen replacement can be monitored with a fibrinogen level assay and clinical response.

Cryo may be used to treat von Willebrand disease, Hemophilia A (factor VIII deficiency), or Factor XIII deficiency only when the appropriate plasma-derived or recombinant factor concentrates are unavailable and/or desmopressin (DDAVP) is ineffective or contraindicated. Cryo is sometimes useful if platelet dysfunction associated with renal failure does not respond to dialysis or DDAVP. Cryo also contains fibronectin; however there are no clear indications for fibronectin replacement.

Topical application of cryo in combination with thrombin as a “fibrin glue” has been used as a surgical hemostatic agent. This application is being discontinued due to the preferred commercially available virus-inactivated fibrin sealants with higher fibrinogen concentrations.

Historically, the dosing was a 10-unit pool for adults and 1-2 units/10kg for pediatric patients based on fibrinogen content. However, Blood Bank and Transfusion services should check with their blood supplier on actual fibrinogen content in individual and pre-pooled units as the fibrinogen content has likely increased (~325 mg) due to improved preparation. Therefore Blood Bank and Transfusion services can probably decrease the standard dose to 4-5 pooled units for adults and 1 unit/10 kg for kids.

A previous version of this post said that cryo is frozen at 1-6°C; this is incorrect. The correct temperature is 18°C, and has been corrected in the text. Thank you, astute readers, for correcting our errors! –Lablogatory editors



-Thomas S. Rogers, DO is a second-year resident at the University of Vermont Medical Center, a clinical instructor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, and the assistant medical director of the Blood Bank and Transfusion Medicine service.

3 thoughts on “Cryoprecipitate 101”

  1. Correction: Cryoprecipitate is stored frozen at <= 18C, similar to FFP. Once thawed, it may be stored at 1-6C prior to transfusion.

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