Plasma utilization has increased over the past two decades, and there is a growing concern that many plasma transfusions are inappropriate. Plasma transfusion is not without risk, and certain complications are more likely with plasma than other blood components. Clinical and laboratory investigations of the patients suffering reactions after infusion of fresh-frozen plasma (FFP) define the etiology and pathogenesis of the panoply of adverse effects. We review here the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management of the risks associated with plasma transfusion. Risks commonly associated with FFP include: 1) transfusion-related acute lung injury, 2) transfusion-associated circulatory overload, and 3) allergic and/or anaphylactic reactions. Other less common risks include 1) transmission of infections, 2) febrile nonhemolytic transfusion reactions, 3) red blood cell alloimmunization, and 4) hemolytic transfusion reactions. The effects of pathogen inactivation or reduction methods on these risks are also discussed. Fortunately, a majority of the adverse effects are not lethal and are adequately treated in clinical practice.
© 2012 American Association of Blood Banks.