Traumatic coagulopathy (TC) occurs in 24% to 38% of adults and is associated with up to a six-fold increase in mortality. This study's purpose was to determine the incidence of pediatric TC and its impact on mortality.
A retrospective review (2004–2009) of all trauma patients from our Level I trauma center was performed. Coagulopathy was defined as an international normalized ratio of 1.5 or higher or activated partial thromboplastin time of more than 36 seconds or platelets less than 100,000/mm3. Clinical outcomes were compared between pediatric (younger than 16 years) and adult patients (≥16 years or older).
A total of 20,126 patients were identified (7.6% pediatric, 92.4% adult). Mean ± SD age was 8.7 ± 4.8 years for pediatric patients and 37.6 ± 16.7 years for adults. The incidence of admission coagulopathy was lower in children (5.8% vs. 8.4%; p < 0.001). Pediatric patients were less likely to develop coagulopathy (8.4% vs. 12.4%; p < 0.001) and developed coagulopathy later than adults (102.3 ± 123.2 hours vs. 59.2 ± 1,823.9 hours; p < 0.001). Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and non–TBI-related coagulopathy increased in stepwise fashion with age (up to 19.5% in elderly). Adult and pediatric TC was associated with increased mortality (pediatric: 14.4% vs. 0.5%; p = 0.02; adult: 18.3% vs. 1.8%; p < 0.001).
Pediatric trauma patients are less likely to present with coagulopathy, are less likely to develop coagulopathy during their admission, and tend to develop coagulopathy later than adults. If they develop coagulopathy, however, mortality increases in a stepwise fashion with age and is associated with a two- to four-fold increased risk of death.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Epidemiologic study, level III.