Transfusion therapy in hemorrhagic shock

Timothy C Nunez, Bryan A Cotton
Current Opinion in Critical Care 2009, 15 (6): 536-41

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Bleeding and death from hemorrhage remain a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the trauma population. Early resuscitation of these gravely injured patients has changed significantly over the past several years. The concept of damage control resuscitation has expanded significantly with the experience of the US military in southwest Asia. This review will focus on this resuscitation strategy of transfusing blood products (red cells, plasma, and platelets) early and often in the exsanguinating patient.

RECENT FINDINGS: In trauma there are no randomized controlled trials comparing the current damage control hematology concept to more traditional resuscitation methods. But the overwhelming conclusion of the data available support the administration of a high ratio of plasma and platelets to packed red blood cells. Several large retrospective studies have shown ratios close to 1: 1 will result in higher survival.

SUMMARY: The current evidence supports that the acute coagulopathy of trauma is present in a high percentage of trauma patients. Patients who will require a massive transfusion will have improved outcomes the earlier that this is identified and the earlier that damage control hematology is instituted. Current evidence does not describe the best ratio but the preponderance of the data suggests it should be greater than 2: 3 plasma-to-packed red blood cells.

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