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Keywords:

  • reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome;
  • blood transfusion;
  • posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome;
  • chronic anemia

Objectives

To report 2 cases of reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS) with posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) after blood transfusion for severe anemia.

Background

RCVS is presented with recurrent thunderclap headache and reversible constriction of cerebral arteries. PRES is a known complication of RCVS. Blood transfusion for severe anemia could be a cause for PRES in few cases; however, it is seldom mentioned as an etiology for RCVS.

Methods

We report a case series.

Results

We report 2 women presented with RCVS with PRES after blood transfusion for anemia, and reviewed another 4 similar cases reported in the literature. Our 2 patients were middle-aged women, with severe chronic anemia (average hemoglobin: 1.45 g/dL), and received multiple blood transfusions (average: 3250 mL) over a period of 5-7 days. They developed thunderclap headache and other symptoms about 1 week after the last blood transfusion. Cerebral vasoconstrictions were demonstrated by magnetic resonance angiography and transcranial color-coded sonography. PRES was found in both of them using magnetic resonance imaging, and one of them also had cytotoxic edema on diffusion weighted image.

Conclusions

RCVS with PRES is one complication of blood transfusion in patients under chronic severe anemia (especially when hemoglobin level increased for more than 5 g/dL), particularly in Asian women with menorrhagia. Blood pressure surge and the occurrence of severe headaches or other neurological symptoms should be aggressively monitored within 10 days after the last blood transfusion.