Massive transfusion in traumatic shock

Jonathan Elmer, Susan R Wilcox, Ali S Raja
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2013, 44 (4): 829-38

BACKGROUND: Hemorrhage after trauma is a common cause of death in the United States and globally. The primary goals when managing traumatic shock are the restoration of oxygen delivery to end organs, maintenance of circulatory volume, and prevention of ongoing bleeding through source control and correction of coagulopathy. Achieving these goals may require massive transfusion of blood products. Although use of blood products may be lifesaving, dose-related adverse effects are well described.

DISCUSSION: Complications of massive transfusion include interdependent derangements such as coagulopathy, hypothermia, acidosis, and electrolyte abnormalities, as well as infectious and immunomodulatory phenomena. This article explores the pathogenesis, implications, prevention, and treatment of these complications through the use of massive transfusion protocols. Particular attention is given to the optimal ratio of blood products transfused in large volume resuscitation and prevention of secondary coagulopathy.

CONCLUSIONS: Observational data indicate that the development and use of a massive transfusion protocol may reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with large-volume resuscitation of patients with hemorrhagic shock. Such protocols should include a pre-defined ratio of packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, and platelets transfused; most commonly, the ratio used is 1:1:1. Additionally, such protocols should monitor for and correct hypothermia, hypofibrinogenemia, and electrolyte disturbances such as hypocalcemia and hyperkalemia.

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