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Transfusion. 1999 Jul;39(7):694-700.

Risk of bacterial infection associated with allogeneic blood transfusion among patients undergoing hip fracture repair.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick 08903, USA. carson@umdnj.edu



The relationship between allogeneic blood transfusion and bacterial infection remains uncertain. An increased risk of bacterial infection would represent the most important risk of allogeneic transfusion, because viral disease transmission has become so rare.


A retrospective cohort study of 9598 consecutive hip fracture patients at least 60 years old who underwent surgical repair was performed. The primary outcome was serious bacterial infection, defined as bacteremia, pneumonia, deep wound infection, or septic arthritis or osteomyelitis. Secondary outcomes included two individual infections, pneumonia and urinary tract infection (UTI), and the cost of infection. Hospital cost of infection was assessed by linking the study population to Medicare data.


Fifty-eight percent of patients received at least one transfusion. Serious bacterial infection occurred in 437 patients (4.6%); 28.8 percent of this group died during the hospital stay. Pneumonia occurred in 361 patients (3.8%) and UTI occurred in 1157 patients (12.1%). The adjusted risk of serious bacterial infection associated with transfusion was 1.35 (95% CI, 1.10-1.66). The adjusted risk for pneumonia was 1.52 (95% CI, 1.21-1.91), and that for UTI was 1.03 (95% CI, 0.91-1.17). A dose-response relationship was present for serious bacterial infection (p = 0.001) and pneumonia (p = 0.001). The cost of hospitalization was $14,000 greater for patients with serious infection than for patients without infection.


Blood transfusion is associated with a 35-percent greater risk of serious bacterial infection and a 52-percent greater risk of pneumonia. Postoperative infections are costly. The risk of bacterial infection may be the most common life-threatening adverse effect of allogeneic blood transfusion.

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