International normalized ratio (INR) and partial thromboplastin time (PTT) are used interchangeably to diagnose acute traumatic coagulopathy but reflect disparate activation pathways. In this study, we identified injury/patient characteristics and coagulation factors that drive contact pathway, tissue factor pathway (TF), and common pathway dysfunction by examining injured patients with discordant coagulopathies. We hypothesized that patients with INR/PTT discordance reflect differing phenotypes representing contact versus tissue factor pathway perturbations and that characterization will provide targets to guide individualized resuscitation.METHODS
Plasma samples were prospectively collected from 1,262 critically injured patients at a single Level I trauma center. Standard coagulation measures and an extensive panel of procoagulant and anticoagulant factors were assayed and analyzed with demographic and outcome data.RESULTS
Fourteen percent of patients were coagulopathic on admission. Among these, 48% had abnormal INR and PTT (BOTH), 43% had isolated prolonged PTT (PTT-CONTACT), and 9% had isolated elevated INR (INR-TF). PTT-CONTACT and BOTH had lower Glasgow Coma Scale score than INR-TF (p < 0.001). INR-TF had decreased factor VII activity compared with PTT-CONTACT, whereas PTT-CONTACT had decreased factor VIII activity compared with INR-TF. All coagulopathic patients had factor V deficits, but activity was lowest in BOTH, suggesting an additive downstream effect of disordered activation pathways. Patients with PTT-CONTACT received half as much packed red blood cell and fresh frozen plasma as did the other groups (p < 0.001). Despite resuscitation, mortality was higher for coagulopathic patients; mortality was highest in BOTH and higher in PTT-CONTACT than in INR-TF (71%, 60%, 41%; p = 0.04).CONCLUSIONS
Discordant phenotypes demonstrate differential factor deficiencies consistent with dysfunction of contact versus tissue factor pathways with additive effects from common pathway dysfunction. Recognition and treatment of pathway-specific factor deficiencies driving different coagulopathic phenotypes in injured patients may individualize resuscitation and improve outcomes.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Prognostic/epidemiological study, level II.