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Burn injury and blood transfusion

Palmieri, Tina L.a,b

Current Opinion in Anesthesiology: April 2019 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 247–251
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000701

Purpose of review Blood transfusion is ubiquitous in major burn injury. The present article describes recent research findings directly impacting blood transfusion strategies in major burn injury both in the operating room and the ICU.

Recent findings Transfusion strategies have been the focus of recent burn investigations. First, a randomized prospective trial encompassing both the ICU and operating room reported that a restrictive red blood cell transfusion threshold (7 g/dl) had equivalent outcomes to a traditional threshold (10 g/dl) for burns more than 20% in terms of mortality, infection, length of stay, duration of mechanical ventilation, and wound healing despite receiving significantly fewer transfusions. The second burn transfusion advance addresses coagulation. Although burn patients initially have elevated fibrinogen, thrombocytopenia and other coagulation disorders develop during excision. Blood product repletion should be based on measurements such as thromboelastography in addition to traditional tests. Finally, a recent randomized trial suggests that fresh-frozen plasma and platelets during burn excision more than 20% may decrease transfusion requirements.

Summary A restrictive transfusion practice during burn excision and grafting is well tolerated and effective in reducing the number of transfusions without increasing complications. Repletion of coagulation products should focus on measured deficits of platelets, fibrinogen, and factors.

aShriners Hospital for Children Northern California

bUniversity of California Davis, Sacramento, California, USA

Correspondence to Tina L. Palmieri, 2425 Stockton Blvd, Suite 718, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA. Tel: +1-916-453-2050; fax: +1-916-453-2373; e-mail:

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