Empiric transfusion strategies during life-threatening hemorrhage

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Abstract

Background:

Resuscitation guided by thrombelastography improves survival after injury. If bleeding is rapid, however, or if no thrombelastography data are available, the optimal strategy remains controversial. Our current practice gives fresh frozen plasma and red blood cells (1:2) empirically in patients with life-threatening hemorrhage, with subsequent administration based on rapid thrombelastography. We identified patients at risk of massive transfusion at 1 hour, examined their initial rapid thrombelastography, and used this value to provide empiric recommendations about transfusions.

Methods:

Massive transfusion was defined as >4 units of red blood cells in the first hour. Patients managed by a trauma activation (2014–2017) had an admission rapid thrombelastography analyzed to determine what proportion met thresholds for administration of cryoprecipitate or platelets.

Results:

Overall, 35 patients received >4 units of red blood cells in the first hour. Based on the admission rapid thrombelastography, 37% met criteria for both platelets and cryoprecipitate, 35% for either platelets or cryoprecipitate and 29% for neither. Kaplan-Meier analysis showed a significant delay in the administration of cryoprecipitate and platelets compared to fresh frozen plasma.

Conclusion:

Patients who require >4 units of red blood cells within the first hour should receive cryoprecipitate and platelets if thrombelastography results are not available. Point-of-care devices are needed for optimal care of trauma-induced-coagulopathy, but these data offer guidance in their absence.

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