Traumatic brain injury is not associated with coagulopathy out of proportion to injury in other body regions

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2014 Jul;77(1):67-72; discussion 72. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000000255.


Background: Coagulopathy following trauma is associated with poor outcomes. Traumatic brain injury has been associated with coagulopathy out of proportion to other body regions. We hypothesized that injury severity and shock determine coagulopathy independent of body region injured.

Methods: We performed a prospective, multicenter observational study at three Level 1 trauma centers. Conventional coagulation tests (CCTs) and rapid thrombelastography (r-TEG) were used. Admission vital signs, base deficit (BD), CCTs, and r-TEG data were collected. The Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) score and Injury Severity Score (ISS) were obtained. Severe injury was defined as AIS score greater than or equal to 3 for each body region. Patients were grouped according to their dominant AIS region of injury. Dominant region of injury was defined as the single region with the highest AIS score. Patients with two or more regions with the same greatest AIS score and patients without a region with an AIS score greater than or equal to 3 were excluded. Coagulation parameters were compared between the dominant AIS region. Significant hypoperfusion was defined as BD greater than or equal to 6.

Results: Of the 795 patients enrolled, 462 met criteria for grouping by dominant AIS region. Patients were predominantly white (59%), were male (75%), experienced blunt trauma (71%), and had a median ISS of 25 (interquartile range, 14-29). Patients with BD greater than or equal to 6 (n = 110) were hypocoagulable by CCT and r-TEG compared with patients with BD less than 6 (n = 223). Patients grouped by dominant AIS region showed no significant differences for any r-TEG or CCT parameter. Patients with BD greater than or equal to 6 demonstrated no difference in any r-TEG or CCT parameter between dominant AIS regions.

Conclusion: Coagulopathy results from a combination of tissue injury and shock independent of the dominant region of injury. With the use of AIS as a measure of injury severity, traumatic brain injury was not independently associated with more profound coagulopathy.

Level of evidence: Epidemiologic study, level III.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Abbreviated Injury Scale*
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / epidemiology
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / etiology*
  • Blood Coagulation Tests
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Multiple Trauma
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Shock / complications
  • Thrombelastography