What are the signs and symptoms of acute transfusion reactions?

Updated: Jan 12, 2021
  • Author: S Gerald Sandler, MD, FCAP, FACP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Acute transfusion reactions present as adverse signs or symptoms during or within 24 hours of a blood transfusion. [1]  The most frequent reactions are fever, chills, pruritus, or urticaria, which typically resolve promptly without specific treatment or complications. Other signs occurring in temporal relationship with a blood transfusion, such as severe shortness of breath, red urine (see image below), high fever, or loss of consciousness may be the first indication of a more severe potentially fatal reaction. [2, 3, 4]

Rapid test to distinguish hematuria from hemoglobi Rapid test to distinguish hematuria from hemoglobinuria. The onset of red urine during or shortly after a blood transfusion may represent hemoglobinuria (indicating an acute hemolytic reaction) or hematuria (indicating bleeding in the lower urinary tract). If freshly collected urine from a patient with hematuria is centrifuged, red blood cells settle at the bottom of the tube, leaving a clear yellow urine supernatant. If the red color is due to hemoglobinuria, the urine sample remains clear red after centrifugation.

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