Hemostasis in Massively Transfused Trauma Patients

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Twenty-seven patients requiring massive transfusions were studied prospectively to determine whether administration of stored, modified whole blood induced a primary disorder of hemostasis evidenced by generalized microvascular oozing. Platelet counts fell in proportion to the number of units of blood transfused. In contrast, the levels of factors V and VIII correlated poorly with the units of blood transfused, 85% of the total variation in the levels being due to influences other than transfused blood. Levels of all other clotting factors were unrelated to the number of units of blood given. Eight patients developed abnormal bleeding. The cause appeared to be dilutional thrombocytopenia in five patients, and DIC in three. In six of the eight, bleeding was controlled with platelet concentrates alone. Two patients were given cryoprecipitate also. The most useful laboratory test for predicting abnormal bleeding was the platelet count. Fibrinogen levels should be followed as an aid in the diagnosis of DIC. The BT, PT, and PTT were not helpful in assessing the cause of bleeding, unless they were greater than 1.5 times the control value. We recommend that any patient receiving massive transfusions who develops diffuse microvascular bleeding be given platelet concentrates. Platelet counts as high as 100,000 may be required to control bleeding from surgical woulds. It is not necessary to supplement transfusions of stored, modified whole blood with fresh blood or fresh frozen plasma.

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