Pediatric Massive Transfusion: A Systematic Review

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Balanced resuscitation of plasma, platelets, and red blood cells is now recognized as improving outcomes in traumatic bleeding in adults. The correct approach in children has yet to be determined.


We performed a systematic review of the literature into transfusion protocols in traumatic hemorrhage in children by conducting an article search of significant databases to identify relevant articles. Studies of interest included interventional trials with comparisons relating to the transfusion of blood including blood component therapy. The search identified 422 articles of interest, the abstracts of which were independently reviewed by 2 authors for inclusion in the trial. This revealed 35 articles, the full texts of which were reviewed. There were no randomized controlled trials and 4 nonrandomized trials with a further 21 articles that were deemed relevant. The data were insufficient for meta-analysis, and so a descriptive analysis was performed.


There were 4 main trials. Two trials were small (approximately 100 patients) nonrandomized trials into pediatric hemorrhage managed as per a massive transfusion protocol or at physician discretion. One was a retrospective analysis of pediatric trauma patients who received red blood cell transfusion with differing platelet ratios, and one was a trauma database review of component ratios in hemorrhaging children. All 4 trials found increased ratios had no effect on mortality.


As well as blood component therapy, adjunctive therapies used in the management of bleeding children are discussed. These include tranexamic acid, viscoelastic hemostatic assays, factor VIIa, and fibrinogen use.


There is little evidence for improved outcomes using component-based transfusion in a rigid 1:1:1 strategy in children. A goal-directed approach using viscoelastic hemostatic assay–guided treatment with early institution of tranexamic acid and fibrinogen replacement is considered the way forward.

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