Transfusion of blood products and nosocomial infection in surgical patients

Mark A. Gunst, Joseph P. Minei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Liberal transfusion of blood products may be associated with a worse clinical outcome, including in-hospital mortality. This review focuses on the mechanisms by which transfusions may result in an increased risk of bacterial infection. RECENT FINDINGS: The association between blood transfusion and worse outcome has been attributed to crecipient's immune function, the so called transfusion-related immunomodulation effect, as well as changes that may occur as blood ages. Despite several attempts to identify the mechanism by which transfusion worsens outcomes, this mechanism, as well as the role of leukoreduction in the mitigation of transfusion-related immunomodulation, have yet to be demonstrated. Bacterial contamination of the blood supply has become a serious problem in the past 20 years, and is currently the second leading cause of transfusion-associated death. Since the implementation of specific platelet transfusion protocols, the incidence of morbidity and mortality caused by infected platelet units appears to be markedly reduced. SUMMARY: Transfusion of blood and blood products can be life-saving interventions. Consequences of transfusion may ultimately result in worse outcomes. More research will be required in order to identify indications and practices that optimize outcomes of surgical patients who require a blood transfusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-432
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent opinion in critical care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Blood banking
  • Infection
  • Leukoreduction
  • Transfusion
  • Transfusion-related immunomodulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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