Predefined massive transfusion protocols are associated with a reduction in organ failure and postinjury complications

J Trauma. 2009 Jan;66(1):41-8; discussion 48-9. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31819313bb.


Introduction: Massive transfusion (MT) protocols have been shown to improve survival in severely injured patients. However, others have noted that these higher fresh frozen plasma (FFP):red blood cell (RBC) ratios are associated with increased risk of organ failure. The purpose of this study was to determine whether MT protocols are associated with increased organ failure and complications.

Methods: Our institution's exsanguination protocol (TEP) involves the immediate delivery of products in a 3:2 ratio of RBC:FFP and 5:1 for RBC:platelets. All patients receiving TEP between February 2006 and January 2008 were compared with a cohort (pre-TEP) of all patients from February 2004 to January 2006 that (1) went immediately to the operating room and (2) received MT (>or=10 units of RBC in first 24 hours).

Results: Two hundred sixty-four patients met inclusion (125 in the TEP group, 141 in the pre-TEP). Demographics and Injury Severity Score were similar. TEP received more intraoperative FFP and platelets but less in first 24 hours (p < 0.01). There was no difference in renal failure or systemic inflammatory response syndrome, but pneumonia, pulmonary failure, open abdomens, and abdominal compartment syndrome were lower in TEP. In addition, severe sepsis or septic shock and multiorgan failure were both lower in the TEP patients (9% vs. 20%, p = 0.011 and 16% vs. 37%, p < 0.001, respectively).

Conclusions: Although MT has been associated with higher organ failure and complication rates, this risk appears to be reduced when blood products are delivered early in the resuscitation through a predefined protocol. Our institution's TEP was associated with a reduction in multiorgan failure and infectious complications, as well as an increase in ventilator-free days. In addition, implementation of this protocol was followed by a dramatic reduction in development of abdominal compartment syndrome and the incidence of open abdomens.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Transfusion / methods*
  • Clinical Protocols*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multiple Organ Failure / etiology
  • Multiple Organ Failure / mortality
  • Multiple Organ Failure / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Survival Analysis
  • Transfusion Reaction
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*