BACKGROUND Granulocyte transfusions (GTX) have been used for decades in paediatric neutropaenic patients, but uncertainty remains regarding their effectiveness. We reviewed all the paediatric data available on GTX, to gain a insight in to the indications for use, favourable effects and side effects in patients and donors. METHODS A comprehensive search was done in MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS and CENTRAL (1966
until 2006). All studies including children (1-18 years) who received GTX were included. RESULTS A total of 66 observational studies were included: seven using prophylactic and 59 therapeutic GTX. Of the therapeutic studies 55 reported a proven sepsis caused by Gram- negative bacteria (34%) or fungal disease (48%) as the indication for GTX. Concerning effectiveness 70% survival was reported, but no controlled studies were identified. Side effects were mentioned in 27 studies including mild respiratory symptoms, allergic reactions and infection related complications (CMV). Side effects in the donor were mainly flu-like illness. DISCUSSION In this first review covering 30 years of experience on the use of GTX in children, we found no randomised evidence showing a positive benefit risk ratio. The available case reports and cohort studies alert us as to the potential benefits and harms of the use of GTX in neutropaenic children and provides the basis for a well designed trial in children.