Blood transfusion risks and alternative strategies in pediatric patients

Paediatr Anaesth. 2011 Jan;21(1):14-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2010.03470.x.


Although the safety of the blood supply has been greatly improved, there still remain both infectious and noninfectious risks to the patient. The incidence of noninfectious transfusion reactions is greater than that of infectious complications. Furthermore, the mortality associated with noninfectious risks is significantly higher. In fact, noninfectious risks account for 87-100% of fatal complications of transfusions. It is concerning to note that the majority of pediatric reports relate to human error such as overtransfusion and lack of knowledge of special requirements in the neonatal age group. The second most frequent category is acute transfusion reactions, majority of which are allergic in nature. It is estimated that the incidence of adverse outcome is 18:100,000 red blood cells issued for children aged less than 18 years and 37:100,000 for infants. The comparable adult incidence is 13:100,000. In order to decrease the risks associated with transfusion of blood products, various blood-conservation strategies can be utilized. Modalities such as acute normovolemic hemodilution, hypervolemic hemodilution, deliberate hypotension, antifibrinolytics, intraoperative blood salvage, and autologous blood donation are discussed and the pediatric literature is reviewed. A discussion of transfusion triggers, and algorithms as well as current research into alternatives to blood transfusions concludes this review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Lung Injury / etiology
  • Antifibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Loss, Surgical
  • Blood Transfusion / mortality
  • Blood Transfusion, Autologous
  • Child
  • Fever / etiology
  • Hemodilution
  • Hemolysis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypotension, Controlled
  • Immunomodulation
  • Infections / transmission
  • Isoantibodies / analysis
  • Isoantibodies / immunology
  • Operative Blood Salvage
  • Risk Assessment
  • Transfusion Reaction*


  • Antifibrinolytic Agents
  • Isoantibodies