What are the physical findings suggestive of circulatory (volume) overload transfusion reaction?

Updated: Jan 12, 2021
  • Author: S Gerald Sandler, MD, FCAP, FACP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Circulatory (volume) overload manifests as follows:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Rales
  • Orthopnea
  • Tachycardia
  • Distended jugular veins
  • Other evidence of cardiac decompensation

Continuous monitoring of vital signs during general anesthesia may prevent acute circulatory (volume) overload, but it may not detect early signs of other reactions (eg, acute hemolytic transfusion reactions). However, the onset of abnormal bleeding/generalized oozing during surgery in a transfused patient should raise the question of a hemolytic transfusion reaction with disseminated intravsacular coagulation (DIC).

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