Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) is characterized by the sudden development of noncardiogenic pulmonary edema (acute lung injury) after transfusion of blood products. Poor awareness of TRALI outside of the blood transfusion medicine community has led to a serious underestimation of this condition, currently the most important severe complication of blood transfusion. Concern for the transfer of donor antileukocyte antibodies has prompted major changes in the management of the blood supply in some countries; however, recent studies have suggested alternative pathophysiological mechanisms for TRALI related to the shelf life of cellular blood products. Although all blood products have been implicated, most reported cases were associated with fresh frozen plasma, red blood cell, and platelet transfusions. Because many patients have additional predisposing factors for acute lung injury, carefully designed prospective studies are needed to fully assess attributable risk related to transfusion. The treatment of TRALI is supportive, and the prognosis is generally better than for other causes of acute lung injury. As many as one third of all patients who develop acute lung injury have been exposed to blood products. TRALI may be an important and potentially preventable cause of acute lung injury.
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