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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Anesthesiology, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care
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Minerva Anestesiologica 1999 May;65(5):286-92

language: English

Transfusion risks and limitations

Mercuriali F., Inghilleri G.

Istituto Ortopedico «G. Pini» - Milano, Servizio di Immunoematologia e Trasfusionale


The safety of the blood transfusion therapy has dramatically increased over the last few years because of improvements in donor screening, testing of donated blood and pretransfusion tests. However blood transfusion can never be seen as a risk free procedure. The risks to which the patients receiving blood are exposed are infectious, immunologic and other non infectious, non immunologic hazards. Transmission of viral, bacterial and protozoal infections is probably the greatest concern associated with allogeneic blood transfusion. While the risk of transmitting viruses is now very small, there is an increasing concern regarding bacterial contamination of donated blood. Among immunological sequelae, beside alloimmunization, are fever and chills, allergic and acute hemolytic reactions, the last being the currently most important cause of deaths associated with blood transfusion. Moreover allogeneic blood transfusion may lead to immunosuppression, which may increase the risk of infection and cancer recurrence. Other non infective pulmonary edema and physical and biochemical alterations (such as hypothermia, electrolyte and acid base disturbances).

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