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Transfusion-associated circulatory overload is the most frequent serious adverse transfusion reaction, with an incidence close to 1% of transfused patients in the general adult population. Patients in ICUs are probably more at risk of transfusion-associated circulatory overload as they are more frequently transfused and associated with more comorbidities. However, the epidemiology of transfusion-associated circulatory overload in ICU is not well characterized, leading to a risk of underdiagnosis.

Objectives: We conducted a scoping review to describe the incidence, risk factors, and outcomes of transfusion-associated circulatory overload in PICU and adult ICU.

Data Sources: PubMed, Ovid Medline, Ovid All EBM Reviews, Ovid Embase, and EBSCO CINAHL COMPLETE.

Study Selection: Two reviewers independently screened each article for inclusion criteria. Studies were eligible if they reported data on incidence, risk factors, or outcomes of transfusion-associated circulatory overload in at least 10 ICU patients.

Data Synthesis: Among 5,926 studies identified, nine were included. Five studies were prospective, and four were retrospective. The definition of transfusion-associated circulatory overload varied among studies. The pooled incidence of transfusion-associated circulatory overload was of 5.5% (95% CI, 2.6-9.4%) in adult ICUs (four studies, 2,252 patients, high heterogeneity). In PICUs, two studies (345 patients) reported 0 cases, and a third study (136 patients) reported variable incidences between 1.5% and 76%, depending on diagnostic criteria. Risk factors for transfusion-associated circulatory overload included positive fluid balance, the number and type of products transfused, rate of transfusion, and cardiovascular and renal comorbidities. Transfusion-associated circulatory overload was associated with increased ICU and hospital lengths of stay, whereas the association with mortality was not consistent.

Conclusions: Transfusion-associated circulatory overload is frequent in ICU patients and is associated with adverse outcomes. The lack of a pediatric-adjusted definition of transfusion-associated circulatory overload may lead to a risk of underdiagnosis of this condition in PICUs. Further research is warranted to improve the knowledge of transfusion-associated circulatory overload and the safety of transfusion in ICU patients.

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