Massive blood transfusion and outcome in 1062 polytrauma patients: a prospective study based on the Trauma Registry of the German Trauma Society


: Dr Stefan Huber-Wagner, Klinikum der Universität München, Chirurgische Klinik und Poliklinik – Innenstadt, Nussbaumstrasse 20, D-80336 München, Germany


Background and Objectives  About 15% of polytrauma patients receive massive blood transfusion (MBT) defined as ≥ 10 units of packed red blood cells (PRBC). In general, the prognosis of trauma patients receiving MBT is considered to be poor. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of MBT on the outcome of polytrauma patients.

Materials and Methods  Records of 10 997 patients in the Trauma Registry of the German Trauma Society were analysed. Transfusion data were available from 8182 severe trauma patients with a mean injury severity score of 24·5 and, of these 8182 patients, 1062 received  10 units of PRBC. First, a logistic regression model for the predictors of mortality was performed. Second, incidences of organ failure and sepsis as well as survival rates were analysed.

Results  The highest risk for mortality was age over 55 years (odds ratios [OR] 4·7; confidence intervals [CI 95%], 3·5–6·5) followed by Glasgow Coma Scale  8 (OR 4·6; 3·4–6·1), MBT  20 units of PRBC (OR 3·3; 2·1–5·4), thromboplastin time < 50% (OR 3·2; 2·2–4·4) and injury severity score  24 (OR 2·9; 2·1–4·1). Transfusion of 10–19 PRBC was identified as the variable with the lowest risk for mortality (OR 1·5; 1·0–2·3). Risk of organ failure, sepsis and death correlated with increasing transfusion amount. For the MBT patients, the survival rate was 56·9% (CI 95%, 53·9–59·9%) compared to 85·2% (84·4–86·0%) of non-MBT patients (P < 0·001). In the MBT group with > 30 PRBC (mean 40·6 PRBC) 39·6% survived (31·7–47·5%).

Conclusion  Massive blood transfusion is one main prognostic factor for mortality in trauma. Although MBT is generally considered to be critical, every second trauma patient with MBT survived. A cut-off value for the number of PRBC could not be determined. Extended transfusion management even with high amounts of PRBC seems to be justified.