Background: Traumatic coagulopathy contributes to early death by exsanguination and late death in multiple organ failure. Recombinant Factor VIIa (rFVIIa, NovoSeven) is a procoagulant that might limit bleeding and improve trauma outcomes.
Methods: We performed a phase 3 randomized clinical trial evaluating efficacy and safety of rFVIIa as an adjunct to direct hemostasis in major trauma. We studied 573 patients (481 blunt and 92 penetrating) who bled 4 to 8 red blood cell (RBC) units within 12 hours of injury and were still bleeding despite strict damage control resuscitation and operative management. Patients were assigned to rFVIIa (200 μg/kg initially; 100 μg/kg at 1 hour and 3 hours) or placebo. Intensive care unit management was standardized using evidence-based trauma "bundles" with formal oversight of compliance. Primary outcome was 30-day mortality. Predefined secondary outcomes included blood products used. Safety was assessed through 90 days. Study powering was based on prior randomized controlled trials and large trauma center databases.
Results: Enrollment was terminated at 573 of 1502 planned patients because of unexpected low mortality prompted by futility analysis (10.8% vs. 27.5% planned/predicted) and difficulties consenting and enrolling sicker patients. Mortality was 11.0% (rFVIIa) versus 10.7% (placebo) (p = 0.93, blunt) and 18.2% (rFVIIa) versus 13.2% (placebo) (p = 0.40, penetrating). Blunt trauma rFVIIa patients received (mean ± SD) 7.8 ± 10.6 RBC units and 19.0 ± 27.1 total allogeneic units through 48 hours, and placebo patients received 9.1 ± 11.3 RBC units (p = 0.04) and 23.5 ± 28.0 total allogeneic units (p = 0.04). Thrombotic adverse events were similar across study cohorts.
Conclusions: rFVIIa reduced blood product use but did not affect mortality compared with placebo. Modern evidence-based trauma lowers mortality, paradoxically making outcomes studies increasingly difficult.