Transfusion-related acute lung injury: Report of a clinical look-back investigation

Patricia M. Kopko, Carol S Marshall, Malcolm R. MacKenzie, Paul V. Holland, Mark A. Popovsky

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365 Scopus citations


Context Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) is a syndrome that includes dyspnea, hypotension, bilateral pulmonary edema, and fever. TRALI is the third leading cause of transfusion-related mortality, but it is probably underdiagnosed and underreported. Objective To determine if blood products from a frequent plasma donor, whose blood product was implicated in a fatal case of TRALI, caused symptoms of TRALI in other recipients of her plasma. Design, Setting, and Participants Retrospective chart review (conducted from November 2000 through April 2001) of 50 patients who received blood components within 2 years (October 1998 through October 2000) from a donor linked to a transfusion-related fatality. Main Outcome Measure Occurrence of mild/moderate (dyspnea with fever, chills, hypotension, and/or hypoxemia) or severe (acute pulmonary edema or need for mechanical ventilation) reaction associated with transfusion. Results Superimposed illness prevented assessment of TRALI in 14 patients. Of the 36 patient charts that could be reviewed, 7 mild/moderate reactions were reported in 6 patients (16.7%) and 8 severe reactions were reported in 8 patients (22.2%). Of 5 patients who received multiple transfusions from the same donor, 2 experienced 2 reactions: one had 2 mild/moderate reactions and the other had both a mild/moderate and a severe reaction. While 5 of the 7 mild/moderate reactions were reported to the hospital transfusion service, only 2 of the 8 severe reactions were reported. Only 2 reactions (1 mild/moderate and 1 severe) were reported to the regional blood collection facility. Conclusions TRALI was frequently underdiagnosed and underreported in recipients of blood products from a donor whose blood products may have caused TRALI in several transfusion recipients. Clinical education and awareness of this often-overlooked diagnosis are imperative for appropriate prevention and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1968-1971
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Medical Association
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 17 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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