Background: Among trauma patients who survive to reach hospital, exsanguination is a common cause of death. A widely practicable treatment that reduces blood loss after trauma could prevent thousands of premature deaths each year. The CRASH-2 trial aimed to determine the effect of the early administration of tranexamic acid on death and transfusion requirement in bleeding trauma patients. In addition, the effort of tranexamic acid on the risk of vascular occlusive events was assessed.
Objective: Tranexamic acid (TXA) reduces bleeding in patients undergoing elective surgery. We assessed the effects and cost-effectiveness of the early administration of a short course of TXA on death, vascular occlusive events and the receipt of blood transfusion in trauma patients.
Design: Randomised placebo-controlled trial and economic evaluation. Randomisation was balanced by centre, with an allocation sequence based on a block size of eight, generated with a computer random number generator. Both participants and study staff (site investigators and trial co-ordinating centre staff) were masked to treatment allocation. All analyses were by intention to treat. A Markov model was used to assess cost-effectiveness. The health outcome was the number of life-years (LYs) gained. Cost data were obtained from hospitals, the World Health Organization database and UK reference costs. Cost-effectiveness was measured in international dollars ($) per LY. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed to test the robustness of the results to model assumptions.
Setting: Two hundred and seventy-four hospitals in 40 countries.
Participants: Adult trauma patients (n = 20,211) with, or at risk of, significant bleeding who were within 8 hours of injury.
Interventions: Tranexamic acid (loading dose 1 g over 10 minutes then infusion of 1 g over 8 hours) or matching placebo.
Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was death in hospital within 4 weeks of injury, and was described with the following categories: bleeding, vascular occlusion (myocardial infarction, stroke and pulmonary embolism), multiorgan failure, head injury and other.
Results: Patients were allocated to TXA (n = 10,096) and to placebo (n = 10,115), of whom 10,060 and 10,067 patients, respectively, were analysed. All-cause mortality at 28 days was significantly reduced by TXA [1463 patients (14.5%) in the TXA group vs 1613 patients (16.0%) in the placebo group; relative risk (RR) 0.91; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.85 to 0.97; p = 0.0035]. The risk of death due to bleeding was significantly reduced [489 patients (4.9%) died in the TXA group vs 574 patients (5.7%) in the placebo group; RR 0.85; 95% CI 0.76 to 0.96; p = 0.0077]. We recorded strong evidence that the effect of TXA on death due to bleeding varied according to the time from injury to treatment (test for interaction p < 0.0001). Early treatment (≤ 1 hour from injury) significantly reduced the risk of death due to bleeding [198 out of 3747 patients (5.3%) died in the TXA group vs 286 out of 3704 patients (7.7%) in the placebo group; RR 0.68; 95% CI 0.57 to 0.82; p < 0.0001]. Treatment given between 1 and 3 hours also reduced the risk of death due to bleeding [147 out of 3037 patients (4.8%) died in the TXA group vs 184 out of 2996 patients (6.1%) in the placebo group; RR 0.79; 95% CI 0.64 to 0.97; p = 0.03]. Treatment given after 3 hours seemed to increase the risk of death due to bleeding [144 out of 3272 patients (4.4%) died in the TXA group vs 103 out of 3362 patients (3.1%) in the placebo group; RR 1.44; 95% CI1.12 to 1.84; p = 0.004]. We recorded no evidence that the effect of TXA on death due to bleeding varied by systolic blood pressure, Glasgow Coma Scale score or type of injury. Administering TXA to bleeding trauma patients within 3 hours of injury saved an estimated 755 LYs per 1000 trauma patients in the UK. The cost of giving TXA to 1000 patients was estimated at $30,830. The incremental cost of giving TXA compared with not giving TXA was $48,002. The incremental cost per LY gained of administering TXA was $64.
Conclusions: Early administration of TXA safely reduced the risk of death in bleeding trauma patients and is highly cost-effective. Treatment beyond 3 hours of injury is unlikely to be effective. Future work [the Clinical Randomisation of an Antifibrinolytic in Significant Head injury-3 (CRASH-3) trial] will evaluate the effectiveness and safety of TXA in the treatments of isolated traumatic brain injury (http://crash3.lshtm.ac.uk/).
Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN86750102, ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00375258 and South African Clinical Trial Register DOH-27-0607-1919.
Funding: The project was funded by the Bupa Foundation, the J P Moulton Charitable Foundation and the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 17, No. 10. See HTA programme website for further project information.