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Summary

A British soldier presented to the UK Field Hospital, Afghanistan with bilateral traumatic lower limb amputations. Resuscitation and surgery followed accepted damage control principles. Blood component therapy was in keeping with UK military guidelines and included platelets and cryoprecipitate. The patient’s trachea was extubated following insertion of an effective epidural. Ten days later, in the UK, he developed neurological symptoms and the presence of a subdural haematoma was confirmed on magnetic resonance imaging. Conventional laboratory coagulation results in this patient were above accepted limits for epidural insertion; however, thromboelastometry before insertion was suggestive of reduced platelet function. This case highlights the risk of relying solely on platelet count as a marker of platelet function following massive transfusion. Thromboelastometry provides additional information for the assessment of coagulation and should form part of the assessment of coagulation following massive transfusion before epidural insertion.