Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) is a major cause of maternal mortality, accounting for one-quarter of all maternal deaths worldwide. Uterotonics after birth are the only intervention that has been shown to be effective for PPH prevention. Tranexamic acid (TXA), an antifibrinolytic agent, has therefore been investigated as a potentially useful complement to this for both prevention and treatment because its hypothesized mechanism of action in PPH supplements that of uterotonics and because it has been proved to reduce blood loss in elective surgery, bleeding in trauma patients, and menstrual blood loss. This review covers evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for PPH prevention after caesarean (n=10) and vaginal (n=2) deliveries and for PPH treatment after vaginal delivery (n=1). It discusses its efficacy and side effects overall and in relation to the various doses studied for both indications. TXA appears to be a promising drug for the prevention and treatment of PPH after both vaginal and caesarean delivery. Nevertheless, the current level of evidence supporting its efficacy is insufficient, as are the data about its benefit:harm ratio. Large, adequately powered multicentre RCTs are required before its widespread use for preventing and treating PPH can be recommended.
Keywords: caesarean and vaginal deliveries; postpartum haemorrhage; prevention; tranexamic acid; treatment.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Journal of Anaesthesia. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.