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The effects of progressive blood loss on coagulation were studied in 87 adults (age 23–66 yr) undergoing a variety of operations under general anesthesia. None had preoperative alterations in coagulation or liver function and none were receiving anticoagulant or antiplatelet medication. Whole blood coagulation status was quantitated using thrombelastography (TEG). Blood samples for TEG were obtained 5 min before and 15 min after induction of anesthesia, after each increment of blood loss (EBL) equalling 5% of estimated blood volume (EBV), at the end of surgery, and 2 hr postoperatively. Patients with EBL exceeding 0.15 EBV were given packed red cells and crystalloid solution. Patients with EBL less than 0.15 EBV received only crystalloid. Thrombelastography analysis showed a trend toward increased coagulability with progressive blood loss. Two of four patients with 80% loss of EBV maintained normal to enhanced coagulation status, although the other two developed clinical and thrombelastographic evidence of coagulopathy. Thrombelastography allowed rapid intraoperative diagnosis and specific treatment of loss of platelet activity in the latter two patients. We conclude that during moderate to massive blood loss, use of supplemental fresh frozen plasma and/or platelets should be reserved for patients with documented defects in coagulation. Thrombelastography is useful for the detection and management of coagulation defects associated with intraoperative blood loss.