Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) support the use of prehospital plasma in traumatic hemorrhagic shock, especially in long transports. The citrate added to plasma binds with calcium, yet most prehospital trauma protocols have no guidelines for calcium replacement. We reviewed the experience of two recent prehospital plasma RCTs regarding admission ionized-calcium (i-Ca) blood levels and its impact on survival. We hypothesized that prehospital plasma is associated with hypocalcemia, which in turn is associated with lower survival.
We studied patients enrolled in two institutions participating in prehospital plasma RCTs (control, standard of care; experimental, plasma), with i-Ca collected before calcium supplementation. Adults with traumatic hemorrhagic shock (systolic blood pressure ≤70 mm Hg or 71–90 mm Hg + heart rate ≥108 bpm) were eligible. We use generalized linear mixed models with random intercepts and Cox proportional hazards models with robust standard errors to account for clustered data by institution. Hypocalcemia was defined as i-Ca of 1.0 mmol/L or less.
Of 160 subjects (76% men), 48% received prehospital plasma (median age, 40 years [interquartile range, 28–53 years]) and 71% suffered blunt trauma (median Injury Severity Score [ISS], 22 [interquartile range, 17–34]). Prehospital plasma and control patients were similar regarding age, sex, ISS, blunt mechanism, and brain injury. Prehospital plasma recipients had significantly higher rates of hypocalcemia compared with controls (53% vs. 36%; adjusted relative risk, 1.48; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03–2.12; p = 0.03). Severe hypocalcemia was significantly associated with decreased survival (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.02–1.13; p = 0.01) and massive transfusion (adjusted relative risk, 2.70; 95% CI, 1.13–6.46; p = 0.03), after adjustment for confounders (randomization group, age, ISS, and shock index).
Prehospital plasma in civilian trauma is associated with hypocalcemia, which in turn predicts lower survival and massive transfusion. These data underscore the need for explicit calcium supplementation guidelines in prehospital hemotherapy.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Therapeutic, level II.