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Transfus Med Rev. 2013 Oct;27(4):206-12. doi: 10.1016/j.tmrv.2013.07.002. Epub 2013 Sep 26.

A retrospective review of patient factors, transfusion practices, and outcomes in patients with transfusion-associated circulatory overload.

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Department of Clinical Pathology, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Transfusion-associated circulatory overload (TACO) is a common yet underrecognized and underreported complication of transfusion associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The objective of this study was to examine patient and transfusion characteristics in a cohort of TACO cases. A retrospective medical record review of 100 consecutive TACO episodes reported at 2 academic centers was performed. Information related to demographics, medical history, radiologic and echocardiographic investigations, infusion practices, reaction features, management, and outcome were collected. Ninety-eight cases were accessible for review. A history of congestive heart failure (41%), renal dysfunction (44%), and age more than 70 years (56%) were common in TACO patients. Suboptimal fluid status management and inappropriate infusion practices were often seen (eg, verbal orders, double red cell transfusions, rapid infusion rates, lack or improper timing of preemptive diuretics). The median volume of blood ordered was 500 mL, and the median volume of crystalloid or colloid (preceding 24 hours) was 2200 mL. A physician order specifying the infusion rate was documented in 50% of transfusion orders. Preemptive diuretics were ordered in only 29% of cases, most commonly introduced midway or after the transfusion at a dose of furosemide 20 mg intravenously. After TACO, 18% of patients required transfer to the intensive care unit, 8% suffered a major complication, and 2% died. Suboptimal ordering and infusion practices may be contributing to the high incidence and severity of TACO. Research in TACO prevention strategies, such as slow rates of infusion and preemptive diuretics, is warranted.

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