Background: Major trauma induces a hypercoagulable state, which is frequently complicated by pathological thrombosis. However the sequential changes in coagulation markers and their relationship to clinical thrombosis have been poorly characterized.
Methods: We measured several markers of in vivo coagulation and fibrinolysis and their regulation serially for 2 weeks after multi-system trauma in a prospective cohort of patients who received no anticoagulant prophylaxis. Asymptomatic deep vein thrombosis (DVT) was assessed by routine bilateral venography between day 12 and 14. Clinically suspected DVT and pulmonary embolism (PE) were investigated in a standardized manner.
Results: Among the 135 cohort patients the overall venous thromboembolism (VTE) rate was 59%. Markers of thrombin generation were markedly increased within 24 hours of injury, remained persistently elevated for about 5 days and then decreased by day 14. No early compensatory increase in Tissue Factor Pathway Inhibitor (TFPI) or the complex of Factor Xa and TFPI (FXa-TFPI) was seen; FXa-TFPI remained depressed throughout the study. There was no inverse relationship demonstrated between markers of thrombin generation and thrombin regulation. Acquired APC resistance and hypofibrinolysis did not appear to be important contributors to hypercoagulability after trauma. None of the coagulation markers were independently predictive of VTE. Increasing age was the only significant, independent predictor of VTE.
Conclusion: Major trauma leads to significantly increased and persistent thrombin generation with disruption of its regulation. Coagulation markers do not appear to add independent predictive value in detecting VTE. Increasing age is the most important clinical predictor of VTE after trauma.