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Vox Sang. 2005 Jul;89(1):1-10.

Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI): a serious adverse event of blood transfusion.

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  • 1DRK Blood Service West, Hagen, Germany.



Analyses of fatal transfusion reactions in the UK and USA have shown that transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) is among the most common causes of fatal transfusion reactions.


Review of the literature was used to analyse TRALI.


TRALI is characterized by acute respiratory distress and non-cardiogenic lung oedema developing during, or within 6 h of, transfusion. In atypical cases, TRALI can become symptomatic much later. TRALI must be carefully differentiated from transfusion-associated circulatory overload. In its fulminant presentation, TRALI can be clinically indistinguishable from acute respiratory distress syndrome occurring as a result of other causes. The severity of TRALI depends upon the susceptibility of the patient to develop a more clinically significant reaction as a result of an underlying disease process, and upon the nature of triggers in the transfused blood components, including granulocyte-binding alloantibodies (immune TRALI) or neutrophil-priming substances such as biologically active lipids (non-immune TRALI). Immune TRALI, which occurs mainly after the transfusion of fresh-frozen plasma and platelet concentrates, is a rare event (about one incidence per 5000 transfusions) but frequently ( approximately 70%) requires mechanical ventilation (severe TRALI) and is not uncommonly fatal (6-9% of cases). Non-immune TRALI, which occurs mainly after the transfusion of stored platelet and erythrocyte concentrates, seems to be characterized by a more benign clinical course, with oxygen support sufficient as a form of therapy in most cases, and a lower mortality than immune TRALI.


By virtue of its morbidity and mortality, TRALI has become one of the most serious current complications of transfusion. To prevent further antibody-mediated cases, the evaluation of TRALI should include leucocyte antibody testing of implicated donors. However, further studies are necessary for the prevention of this serious transfusion complication.

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