JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Antifibrinolytic drugs for acute traumatic injury

Ian Roberts, Haleema Shakur, Katherine Ker, Tim Coats
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, 12: CD004896
23418644

BACKGROUND: Uncontrolled bleeding is an important cause of death in trauma victims. Antifibrinolytic treatment has been shown to reduce blood loss following surgery and may also be effective in reducing blood loss following trauma.

OBJECTIVES: To quantify the effects of antifibrinolytic drugs on mortality, vascular occlusive events, surgical intervention and receipt of blood transfusion after acute traumatic injury.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the PubMed, Science Citation Index, National Research Register, Zetoc, SIGLE, Global Health, LILACS, and Current Controlled Trials to March 2004 and the Cochrane Injuries Group Specialised Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE and EMBASE to July 2010.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included all randomised controlled trials of antifibrinolytic agents (aprotinin, tranexamic acid [TXA] and epsilon-aminocaproic acid) following acute traumatic injury.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: The titles and abstracts identified in the electronic searches were screened by two independent authors to identify studies that had the potential to meet the inclusion criteria. The full reports of all such studies were obtained. From the results of the screened electronic searches, bibliographic searches, and contacts with experts, two authors independently selected trials meeting the inclusion criteria.

MAIN RESULTS: Four trials met the inclusion criteria, including 20,548 randomised patients. Two trials with a combined total of 20,451 patients assessed the effects of TXA on mortality; TXA reduced the risk of death by 10% (RR=0.90, 95% CI 0.85 to 0.97; P=0.0035). Data from one trial involving 20,211 patients found that TXA reduced the risk of death due to bleeding by 15% (RR=0.85, 95% CI 0.76 to 0.96; P=0.0077). There was evidence that early treatment (≤ 3 hours) was more effective than late treatment (>3 hours). There was no evidence that TXA increased the risk of vascular occlusive events or need for surgical intervention. There was no substantial difference in the receipt of blood transfusion between the TXA and placebo groups. The two trials of aprotinin provided no reliable data.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Tranexamic acid safely reduces mortality in bleeding trauma patients without increasing the risk of adverse events. TXA should be given as early as possible and within three hours of injury, as treatment later than this is unlikely to be effective. Further trials are needed to determine the effects of TXA in patients with isolated traumatic brain injury.

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