Platelets play a central role in hemostasis after trauma. However, the platelet count of most trauma patients does not fall below the normal range (100–450 × 109/L), and as a result, admission platelet count has not been adequately investigated as a predictor of outcome. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between admission platelet count and outcomes after trauma.
A retrospective cohort study of 389 massively transfused trauma patients. Regression methods and the Kruskal-Wallis test were used to test the association between admission platelet count and 24-hour mortality and units of packed red blood cells (PRBCs) transfused.
For every 50 × 109/L increase in admission platelet count, the odds of death decreased 17% at 6 hours (p = 0.03; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.70–0.99) and 14% at 24 hours (p = 0.02; 95% CI, 0.75–0.98). The probability of death at 24 hours decreased with increasing platelet count. For every 50 × 109/L increase in platelet count, patients received 0.7 fewer units of blood within the first 6 hours (p = 0.01; 95% CI, −1.3 to −0.14) and one less unit of blood within the first 24 hours (p = 0.002; 95% CI, -1.6 to -0.36). The mean number of units of PRBCs transfused within the first 6 hours and 24 hours decreased with increasing platelet count.
Admission platelet count was inversely correlated with 24-hour mortality and transfusion of PRBCs. A normal platelet count may be insufficient after severe trauma, and as a result, these patients may benefit from a lower platelet transfusion threshold. Future studies of platelet number and function after injury are needed.