Background: Fresh-frozen plasma (FFP) is frequently transfused to patients with mild prolongation of coagulation values under the assumption that FFP will correct the coagulopathy. There is little evidence to support this practice, however. To determine the effect of FFP on coagulation variables and correlation with bleeding in patients with mildly prolonged coagulation values, a prospective audit of all FFP transfusions at the Massachusetts General Hospital between September 2, 2004, and September 30, 2005, was performed.
Study design and methods: All patients transfused with FFP for a pretransfusion prothrombin time (PT) between 13.1 and 17 seconds (international normalized ratio [INR], 1.1-1.85) and with a follow-up PT-INR within 8 hours of transfusion were included. Of 1091 units of FFP transfused, follow-up coagulation values within 8 hours were available for 121 patients (324 units).
Results: Transfusion of FFP resulted in normalization of PT-INR values in 0.8 percent of patients (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.0020-0.045) and decreased the PT-INR value halfway to normalization in 15.0 percent of patients (95% CI, 0.097-0.225). Median decrease in PT was 0.20 seconds (median decrease in INR, 0.07). Pretransfusion PT-INR, partial thromboplastin time, platelet count, and creatinine values had no correlation with red blood cell loss.
Conclusion: It is concluded that transfusion of FFP for mild abnormalities of coagulation values results in partial normalization of PT in a minority of patients and fails to correct the PT in 99 percent of patients.