Trauma is the most common cause of pediatric mortality. Much of the research that led to life-saving interventions in adults, however, has not been replicated in the pediatric population. Children have important physiologic and anatomic differences from adults, which impact hemostasis and transfusion. Hemorrhage is a leading cause of death in trauma, and children have important differences in their coagulation profiles. Transfusion strategies, including the massive transfusion protocol and use of antifibrinolytics, are still controversial. In addition to the blood that is lost from the injury itself, trauma leads to inflammation and to a dysfunction in hemostasis, causing coagulopathy.
In one study in which children suffered from mainly blast and penetrating injuries in a combat setting (PEDTRAX trial), the early administration of tranexamic acid was associated with decreased mortality. Some authors suggest that this result may not apply to blunt trauma, which is much more common in children in noncombat settings. Using thromboelastography to guide the administration of recombinant Factor VIIa has been done in selected cases and may represent a future avenue of research.
This article explores new research from the past year in pediatric trauma, starting with the physiologic differences in pediatric red blood cells and coagulation profiles. We also looked at the dramatic change in thinking over the past decade in the tolerable level of anemia in critically ill pediatric patients, as well as scales for determining the need for massive transfusion and exploring if the concepts of damage control resuscitation apply to children. Other strategies, such as avoiding hypothermia, and the selective administration of antifibriniolytics, are important in pediatric trauma as well. Future research that is pediatric focused is needed for the optimal care of our youngest patients.
Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago, Chicago IL 60637, USA
Correspondence to Anna Clebone, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Ave. MC-4028, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. Tel: +773 702 6700; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org