A systematic review on the rotational thrombelastometry (ROTEM®) values for the diagnosis of coagulopathy, prediction and guidance of blood transfusion and prediction of mortality in trauma patients

Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2016 Oct 3;24(1):114. doi: 10.1186/s13049-016-0308-2.


Introduction: Viscoelastic assays have been promoted as an improvement over traditional coagulation tests in the management of trauma patients. Rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM®) has been used to diagnose coagulopathy and guide hemostatic therapy in trauma. This systematic review of clinical studies in trauma investigates the ROTEM® parameters thresholds used for the diagnosing coagulopathy, predicting and guiding transfusion and predicting mortality.

Methods: Systematic literature search was performed using MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane databases. We included studies without restricting year of publication, language or geographic location. Original studies reporting the thresholds of ROTEM® parameters in the diagnosis or management of coagulopathy in trauma patients were included. Data on patient demographics, measures of coagulopathy, transfusion and mortality were extracted. We reported our findings according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Quality assessment and risk of bias were performed using Newcastle Ottawa Scale (NOS) and the quality assessment of diagnostic accuracy studies (QUADAS-2) tools, respectively.

Results: A total of 13 observational studies involving 2835 adult trauma patients met the inclusion criteria. Nine studies were prospective and four were retrospective. There were no randomized controlled trials. The quality of the included studies was moderate (mean NOS 5.92, standard deviation 0.26). Using QUADAS-2, only 1 study (7.6 %) had low risk of bias in all domains, and 9 studies (69.2 %) had low risk of applicability concerns. Outcomes from 13 studies were grouped into three categories: diagnosis of coagulopathy (n = 10), prediction of massive transfusion or transfusion guidance (n = 6) and prediction of mortality (n = 6). Overall, specific ROTEM® parameters measured (clot amplitude and lysis) in the extrinsically activated test (EXTEM) and the fibrin-based extrinsically activated test (FIBTEM) were consistently associated with the diagnosis of coagulopathy, increased risk of bleeding and massive transfusion, and prediction of mortality. Presence of hyperfibrinolysis by ROTEM® was associated with increased mortality.

Conclusions: Most of the evidence indicates that abnormal EXTEM and FIBTEM clot amplitude (CA5, CA10) or maximal clot firmness (MCF) diagnose coagulopathy, and predict blood transfusion and mortality. The presence of fibrinolysis (abnormal lysis index [LI30] or maximum lysis [ML]) was also associated with mortality. ROTEM® thus, may be of value in the early management of trauma patients.

Keywords: Acute trauma coagulopathy; Bleeding; Threshold; Thromboelastometry; Transfusion.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Coagulation Disorders* / blood
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders* / therapy
  • Blood Coagulation Tests
  • Blood Transfusion / standards*
  • Global Health
  • Hemostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Thrombelastography / methods*
  • Wounds and Injuries / blood
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy