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Relationship of Coagulopathy and Platelet Dysfunction to Transfusion Needs After Traumatic Brain Injury.

BACKGROUND: Coagulopathy and platelet dysfunction commonly develop after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Thromboelastography (TEG) and platelet function assays (PFAs) are often performed at the time of admission; however, their roles in assessing post-TBI coagulopathy have not been investigated. We hypothesized that compared to blunt TBI, penetrating TBI would (1) demonstrate greater coagulopathy by TEG, (2) be associated with abnormal PFA results, and (3) require more blood product transfusions.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective study of patients admitted to the neuroscience intensive care unit of a level 1 trauma center from 2013 to 2015 with head Abbreviated Injury Scale ≥3. Patients were compared by mechanism of injury (blunt vs. penetrating). Admission demographics, injury characteristics, and laboratory parameters were evaluated. VerifyNow® Aspirin and P2Y12 tests were used for platelet function analysis.

RESULTS: Five hundred and thirty-four patients were included in the analysis. There were no differences between groups in platelet count or international normalized ratio; however, patients with penetrating TBI were more coagulopathic by TEG, with all of the TEG parameters being significantly different except for R time. Patients with penetrating head trauma were not more likely than their blunt counterparts to have abnormal PFA results, and PFA results did not correlate with any TEG parameter in either group. The penetrating cohort received more units of blood products in the first 4 and 24 h than the blunt cohort.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients presenting with penetrating TBI demonstrated increased coagulopathy compared to those with blunt TBI as measured by TEG and need for transfusion. PFA results did not correlate with TEG findings in this population.

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