TACO Time!

One of the best acronyms in medicine: TACO. Of no solace to those afflicted by it, transfusion-related circulatory overload is one of the least-explicitly recognized complications of blood product transfusion. The consent for blood products typically focuses on the rare transmissibility of viruses and occurrence of autoimmune reactions, yet TACO is far more frequent.

This report from an ongoing transfusion surveillance study catalogued 20,845 patients receiving transfusions of 128,263 blood components. The incidence of TACO was one case per 100 transfused patients. Then, these authors identified 200 patients suffering TACO, and compared their baseline characteristics to 405 patients receiving similar transfusion intensity, but who did not develop TACO. Clinically relevant risk factors for developing TACO identified in their analysis were, essentially:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • End-stage or acute renal disease
  • End-stage liver disease
  • Need for emergency surgery

… or, basically, the population for whom a propensity for circulatory overload would be expected. It appears, generally speaking, clinicians were aware of the increased risks in these specific patients, as a greater percentage received diuretic treatment prior to transfusion as well. 30-day mortality in those suffering TACO was approximately 20%, roughly double that of those matched controls.

More good reasons to adhere to as many restrictive transfusion guidelines as feasible.

“Contemporary Risk Factors and Outcomes of Transfusion-Associated Circulatory Overload”