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  • image Although the intravascular half-life of a crystalloid solution is 20 to 30 min, most colloid solutions have intravascular half-lives between 3 and 6 h.

  • image Patients with a normal hematocrit should generally be transfused only after losses greater than 10% to 20% of their blood volume. The timing of transfusion initiation is based on the patient’s surgical procedure, comorbid conditions, and rate of blood loss.

  • image The most severe transfusion reactions are due to ABO incompatibility; naturally acquired antibodies can react against the transfused (foreign) antigens, activate complement, and result in intravascular hemolysis.

  • image In anesthetized patients, an acute hemolytic reaction is manifested by a rise in temperature, unexplained tachycardia, hypotension, hemoglobinuria, diffuse oozing in the surgical field, or a combination of these findings.

  • image Allogeneic transfusion of blood products may diminish immunoresponsiveness and promote inflammation.

  • image Immunocompromised and immunosuppressed patients (eg, premature infants, organ transplant recipients, and cancer patients) are particularly susceptible to severe transfusion-related cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections. Ideally, such patients should receive only CMV-negative units.

  • image The most common cause of nonsurgical bleeding following massive blood transfusion is dilutional thrombocytopenia.

  • image Clinically important hypocalcemia, causing cardiac depression, will not occur in most normal patients unless the transfusion rate exceeds 1 unit every 5 min, and intravenous calcium salts should rarely be required in the absence of measured hypocalcemia.

  • image Once normal tissue perfusion is restored, any metabolic acidosis typically resolves, and metabolic alkalosis commonly occurs as citrate and lactate contained in transfusions and resuscitation fluids are converted to bicarbonate by the liver.

Almost all patients undergoing surgical procedures require venous access for administration of intravenous fluids and medication, and some patients will require transfusion of blood components. The anesthesia provider should be able to assess intravascular volume with sufficient accuracy to correct existing fluid or electrolyte deficits and replace ongoing losses. Errors in fluid and electrolyte replacement or transfusion may result in morbidity or death.


Intravascular volume can be estimated using patient history, physical examination, and laboratory analysis, often with the aid of sophisticated hemodynamic monitoring techniques. Regardless of the method employed, serial evaluations are necessary to confirm initial impressions and to guide fluid, electrolyte, and blood component therapy. Multiple modalities complement one another, because all parameters are indirect, nonspecific measures of volume; reliance upon any one parameter may lead to erroneous conclusions.


The patient history may reveal recent oral intake, persistent vomiting or diarrhea, gastric suction, significant blood loss or wound drainage, intravenous fluid and blood administration, and recent hemodialysis if the patient has kidney failure.


Indications of hypovolemia include abnormal skin turgor, dehydration of mucous membranes, thready peripheral pulses, increased resting heart rate and decreased blood pressure, orthostatic heart rate and blood pressure changes from the supine to sitting or standing positions, and decreased urinary flow rate ...

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