Transfusion Reactions in Emergency Medicine Medication

Updated: Feb 29, 2016
  • Author: Eric M Kardon, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Medication

Medication Summary

In hemolytic transfusion reactions, pharmacologic treatment is aimed at increasing renal blood flow and preserving urinary output. In anaphylaxis, the goals of therapy are to maintain hemodynamic stability and reverse the underlying process.

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Diuretics

Class Summary

These agents are used to increase renal blood flow and preserve urinary output in hemolytic transfusion reactions. They also may be used in transfusion-related volume overload.

Furosemide (Lasix)

Increases excretion of water by interfering with chloride-binding cotransport system, which results in inhibition of sodium and chloride reabsorption in ascending loop of Henle and distal renal tubule. Individualize dose to patient. Depending on response, administer at increments of 20-40 mg, no sooner than 6-8 h after previous dose, until desired diuresis occurs.

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Vasopressors

Class Summary

These agents are used to increase renal blood flow and preserve urinary output in hemolytic transfusion reactions. In severe allergic reactions, epinephrine is used for its inotropic properties and ability to maintain perfusion of vital organs.

Dopamine (Intropin)

Stimulates both adrenergic and dopaminergic receptors. Hemodynamic effect depends on dose. Lower doses stimulate mainly dopaminergic receptors that produce renal and mesenteric vasodilation. Cardiac stimulation and renal vasodilation produced by higher doses.

Epinephrine (Adrenalin, Epinal, Epifrin)

DOC for treating anaphylaxis. Stimulates alpha-, beta1, and beta2-adrenergic receptors, which in turn results in bronchodilatation, increased peripheral vascular resistance, hypertension, increased chronotropic cardiac activity, and positive inotropic effects.

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Antihistamines

Class Summary

Used to treat minor allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. Diphenhydramine may be used to pretreat patients with prior documentation of minor allergic reactions.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Benylin, Bydramine)

Used for symptomatic relief of allergic symptoms caused by histamine released in response to allergens.

Cimetidine (Tagamet)

H2 antagonist that, when combined with H1 type, may be useful in treating itching and flushing in anaphylaxis, pruritus, urticaria, and contact dermatitis that do not respond to H1 antagonists alone. Use in addition to H1 antihistamines.

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Corticosteroids

Class Summary

These agents have limited benefit in the initial acute treatment of rapidly deteriorating anaphylactic patient. However, they may benefit patients with persistent bronchospasm or hypotension. Onset of action is approximately 4-6 h following its administration.

Methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrol)

Decreases inflammation by suppressing migration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and reversing increased capillary permeability. Useful in treatment of inflammatory and allergic reactions. By reversing increased capillary permeability and suppressing PMN activity, may decrease inflammation.

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