Background: Transfusion has long been identified as a risk factor for acute lung injury (ALI)/ARDS. No study has formally evaluated the transfusion of specific blood products as a risk factor for ALI/ARDS in critically ill medical patients.
Method: In this single-center retrospective cohort study, 841 consecutive critically ill patients were studied for the development of ALI/ARDS. Patients who received blood product transfusions were compared with those who did not, in univariate and multivariate propensity analyses.
Results: Two hundred ninety-eight patients (35%) received blood transfusions. Transfused patients were older (mean [± SD] age, 67 ± 17 years vs 62 ± 19 years; p < 0.001) and had higher acute physiologic and chronic health evaluation (APACHE) III scores (74 ± 32 vs 58 ± 23; p < 0.001) than those who had not received transfusions. ALI/ARDS developed more commonly (25% vs 18%; p = 0.025) in patients exposed to transfusion. Seventeen patients received massive RBC transfusions (ie, > 10 U of blood transfused within 24 h), of whom 13 also received fresh-frozen plasma (FFP) and 11 received platelet transfusions. When adjusted for the probability of transfusion and other ALI/ARDS risk factors, any transfusion was associated with the development of ALI/ARDS (odds ratio [OR], 2.14; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.24 to 3.75). Among those patients receiving individual blood products, ALI/ARDS was more likely to develop in patients who received FFP transfusions (OR, 2.48; 95% CI, 1.29 to 4.74) and platelet transfusions (OR, 3.89; 95% CI, 1.36 to 11.52) than in those who received only RBC transfusions (OR, 1.39; 95% CI, 0.79 to 2.43).
Conclusion: Transfusion is associated with an increased risk of the development of ALI/ARDS in critically ill medical patients. The risk is higher with transfusions of plasma-rich blood products, FFP, and platelets, than with RBCs.