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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2003 Mar;127(3):316-20.

Allergic transfusion reactions: an evaluation of 273 consecutive reactions.

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  • 1Cleveland Clinic, Department of Clinical Pathology, Section of Transfusion Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.



Allergic reaction to transfusion is common. However, the review of a large series of allergic transfusion reactions has not been performed.


To review a large series of allergic transfusion reactions.


A retrospective review of all reported and evaluated transfusion reactions during a 9-year period at 1 institution was performed. Associated clinical signs and symptoms were evaluated.


Large, tertiary-care teaching hospital.


A total of 1613 adverse reactions to transfusion were evaluated. Allergic transfusion reactions accounted for 17% (273 of 1613) of the transfusion reactions. Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis, anaphylactoid signs and symptoms, and/or hypotension) were observed in 21 patients (7.7% of allergic reactions, or 1.3% of all transfusion reactions). Serum tryptase, a marker for anaphylaxis, was measured in 1 patient and determined to be borderline elevated. Five patients experienced allergic transfusion reactions to autologous red cell transfusions. One patient experienced hives during the transfusion of a major ABO mismatched red blood cell. A wide variety of skin manifestations were observed, but 26 (9.5%) patients did not have skin manifestations. Allergic transfusion reactions were estimated to occur in approximately 1 in 4124 blood components transfused, or 1 in 2338 transfusion episodes. Severe allergic reactions occurred in approximately 1 in 30,281 transfusions. No deaths directly attributable to transfusion were observed in this patient group.


The clinical presentation of allergic transfusion reactions was quite variable, and the pathophysiology remains unclear. Recommendations for clinical evaluation and therapy remain problematic and often empirical.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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