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Goal-directed platelet transfusions correct platelet dysfunction and may improve survival in patients with severe traumatic brain injury

Furay, Elisa, MD; Daley, Mitch, PharmD; Teixeira, Pedro G., MD; Coopwood, Thomas B., MD; Aydelotte, Jayson D., MD; Malesa, Natalia, PharmD; Tellinghuisen, Christian, PharmD; Ali, Sadia, MPH; Brown, Lawrence H., PhD; Brown, Carlos V.R., MD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: November 2018 - Volume 85 - Issue 5 - p 881–887
doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000002047

BACKGROUND Platelet dysfunction, defined as adenosine diphosphate inhibition greater than 60% on thromboelastogram, is an independent predictor of increased mortality in patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). We changed our practice to transfuse platelets for all patients with severe TBI and platelet dysfunction. We hypothesized that platelet transfusions would correct platelet dysfunction and improve mortality in patients with severe TBI.

METHODS This retrospective review included adult trauma patients admitted to our Level I trauma center from July 2015 to October 2016 with severe TBI (head Abbreviated Injury Scale score ≥ 3) who presented with platelet dysfunction and subsequently received a platelet transfusion. Serial thromboelastograms were obtained to characterize the impact of platelet transfusion on clot strength. Subsequently, the platelet transfusion group was compared to a group of historical controls with severe TBI patients and platelet dysfunction who did not receive platelet transfusion.

RESULTS A total of 35 patients with severe TBI presented with platelet dysfunction. Following platelet transfusion clot strength improved as represented by decreased K time, increased α angle, maximum amplitude, and G-value, as well as correction of adenosine diphosphate inhibition. When comparing to 51 historic controls with severe TBI and platelet dysfunction, the 35 study patients who received a platelet transfusion had a lower mortality (9% vs. 35%; p = 0.005). In stepwise logistic regression, platelet transfusion was independently associated with decreased mortality (odds ratio, 0.23; 95% confidence interval, 0.06–0.92; p = 0.038).

CONCLUSION In patients with severe TBI and platelet dysfunction, platelet transfusions correct platelet inhibition and may be associated with decreased mortality.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Therapeutic, level II.

From the Department of Surgery and Perioperative Care, Dell Medical School, Austin, Texas. lphia, Pennsylvania (J.C.).

Submitted: January 15, 2018, Revised: June 4, 2018 Accepted: July 26, 2018, Published online: August 20, 2018.

Address for reprints: Elisa J. Furay, MD, Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas Attn: General Surgery 1500 Red River St., Austin, Texas 78701; email:

This study will be a podium presentation at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Western Trauma Association, February 25-March 2, 2018. Whistler, British Columbia.

This manuscript has been submitted solely to Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery and has not been previously published in any form in another publication.

© 2018 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.