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Transfusion-associated hyperkalemia in pediatric population

"Hyperkalemia is a rare life-threatening complication of red blood cell (RBC) transfusion" Yamada et al (2021).

Abstract:

Background: Hyperkalemia is a rare life-threatening complication of red blood cell (RBC) transfusion. Stored RBCs leak intracellular potassium (K+) into the supernatant; irradiation potentiates the K+ leak. As the characteristics of patients and implicated RBCs have not been studied systematically, a multicenter study of transfusion-associated hyperkalemia (TAH) in the pediatric population was conducted through the AABB Pediatric Transfusion Medicine Subsection.

Study design: The medical records of patients <18 years old were retrospectively queried for hyperkalemia occurrence during or ≤12 h after the completion of RBC transfusion in a 1-year period. Collected data included patient demographics, diagnosis, medical history, timing of hyperkalemia and transfusion, mortality, and RBC unit characteristics.

Results/findings: A total of 3777 patients received 19,649 RBC units during the study period in four facilities. TAH was found in 35 patients (0.93%) in 37 occurrences. The patient median age and weight were 1.28 years and 9.80 kg, respectively. All patients had multiple serious comorbidities. There were 79 RBC units transfused in the TAH events; 62% were irradiated, and the median age of the units was 10 days. The median total RBC volume transfused ≤12 h before TAH was 24% of patient estimated total blood volume, and the median infusion rate (IR) was19.6 ml/kg/h. Mortality rate within 1 day after the TAH event was 20%.

Conclusions: The prevalence of TAH in children was low; however, the 1-day mortality rate was 20%. Patients with multiple comorbidities may be at higher risk for TAH. The IR was higher for patients who had TAH than the IR threshold for safe transfusion.

Reference:

Yamada C, Edelson M, Lee A, Saifee NH, Bahar B, Delaney M. Transfusion-associated hyperkalemia in pediatric population: Prevalence, risk factors, survival, infusion rate, and RBC unit features. Transfusion. 2021 Feb 10. doi: 10.1111/trf.16300. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33565635.