Prehospital fluid resuscitation in hypotensive trauma patients: do we need a tailored approach?

Injury. 2015 Jan;46(1):4-9. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2014.08.001. Epub 2014 Aug 11.


Aim: The ideal strategy for prehospital intravenous fluid resuscitation in trauma remains unclear. Fluid resuscitation may reverse shock but aggravate bleeding by raising blood pressure and haemodilution. We examined the effect of prehospital i.v. fluid on the physiologic status and need for blood transfusion in hypotensive trauma patients after their arrival in the emergency department (ED).

Methods: Retrospective analysis of trauma patients (n=941) with field hypotension presenting to a level 1 trauma centre. Regression models were used to investigate associations between prehospital fluid volumes and shock index and blood transfusion respectively in the emergency department and mortality at 24h.

Results: A 1L increase of prehospital i.v. fluid was associated with a 7% decrease of shock index in the emergency department (p<0.001). Volumes of 0.5-1L and 1-2L were associated with reduced likelihood of shock as compared to volumes of 0-0.5L: OR 0.61 (p=0.03) and OR 0.54 (p=0.02), respectively. Volumes of 1-2L were also associated with an increased likelihood of receiving blood transfusion in ED: OR 3.27 (p<0.001). Patients who had received volumes of >2L have a much greater likelihood of receiving blood transfusion in ED: OR 9.92 (p<0.001). Mortality at 24h was not associated with prehospital i.v. fluids.

Conclusion: In hypotensive trauma patients, prehospital i.v. fluids were associated with a reduction of likelihood of shock upon arrival in ED. However, volumes of >1L were associated with a markedly increased likelihood of receiving blood transfusion in ED. Therefore, decision making regarding prehospital i.v. fluid resuscitation is critical and may need to be tailored to the individual situation. Further research is needed to clarify whether a causal relationship exists between prehospital i.v. fluid volume and blood transfusion. Also, prospective trials on prehospital i.v. fluid resuscitation strategies in specific patient subgroups (e.g. traumatic brain injury and concomitant haemorrhage) are warranted.

Keywords: Blood transfusion; Fluid resuscitation; Haemorrhage; Prehospital; Trauma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Blood Transfusion / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Fluid Therapy* / methods
  • Fluid Therapy* / mortality
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Hypotension / mortality
  • Hypotension / therapy*
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Resuscitation* / methods
  • Resuscitation* / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Shock, Hemorrhagic / mortality
  • Shock, Hemorrhagic / prevention & control
  • Shock, Hemorrhagic / therapy*
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*