Hyperfibrinolysis elicited via thromboelastography predicts mortality in trauma

J Am Coll Surg. 2012 Oct;215(4):496-502. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2012.06.005. Epub 2012 Jul 4.


Background: The acute coagulopathy of trauma has been identified as a critical determinant of outcomes. Antifibrinolytic agents have recently been demonstrated to improve outcomes. This prospective study was designed to assess coagulopathy in trauma patients using thromboelastography.

Study design: Trauma patients meeting our institution's highest tier of trauma team activation criteria were prospectively enrolled during a 5-month period ending April 1, 2011. Thromboelastography was performed at admission, +1 hour, +2 hours, and +6 hours using citrated blood. Hyperfibrinolysis was defined as estimated percent lysis ≥15%. Patients were followed throughout their hospital course to collect clinical data and outcomes.

Results: One hundred and eighteen patients were enrolled (77.1% were male, 51.7% had penetrating trauma, 7.6% had systolic blood pressure <90 mmHg, 47.5% had Injury Severity Score >16, and 23.7% had Glasgow Coma Scale score ≤8). Hyperfibrinolysis was present in 13 patients (11.0%), with a mean time to detection of 13 minutes (range 2 to 60 minutes). By the 6-hour sampling, 8 (61.5%) of the hyperfibrinolytic patients had expired from hemorrhage. Survivors at this point demonstrated correction of coagulopathy, however, 12 patients (92.3%) ultimately expired (75% hemorrhage, 25% head injury). On stepwise logistic regression, hyperfibrinolysis was a strong predictor of early (24 hours) mortality (odds ratio = 25.0; 95% CI, 2.8-221.4; p = 0.004), predicting 53% of early deaths. Compared with patients without hyperfibrinolysis, patients with hyperfibrinolysis had a greater need for massive transfusion (76.9% vs 8.7%; adjusted odds ratio = 19.1; 95% CI, 3.6-101.3; p < 0.001) and had a greater early mortality (69.2% vs 1.9%; adjusted odds ratio = 55.8; 95% CI, 7.2-432.3; p < 0.001) and in-hospital mortality (92.3% vs 9.5%; adjusted odds ratio = 55.5; 95% CI, 4.8-649.7; p = 0.001).

Conclusions: In this prospective analysis, hyperfibrinolysis on thromboelastography developed in approximately 10% of patients and was considerably more likely to require massive transfusion. Hyperfibrinolysis was a strong independent predictor of mortality. Additional evaluation of the role of thromboelastography-directed antifibrinolytic therapies is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / complications*
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Fibrinolysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thrombelastography*
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*