Background: Thrombelastography (TEG) and rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM) are viscoelastic haemostatic assays (VHA) which exploit the elastic properties of clotting blood. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the usefulness of these tests in bleeding patients outside the cardiac surgical setting.
Materials and methods: We searched the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE and SCOPUS. We also searched clinical trial registries for ongoing and unpublished studies, and checked reference lists to identify additional studies.
Results: We found 4 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that met our inclusion criteria with a total of 229 participants. The sample size was small (from 28 to 111 patients) and the follow-up periods very heterogenous (from 4 weeks to 3 years). Pooled data from the 3 trials reporting on mortality (199 participants) do not show any effect of the use of TEG on mortality as compared to standard monitoring (based on the average treatment effect from a fixed-effects model): Risk Ratio (RR) 0.71; 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.43 to 1.16. Likewise, the use of VHA does not reduce the need for red blood cells (mean difference -0.64; 95% CI: -1.51 to 0.23), platelet concentrates (mean difference -1.12; 95% CI: -3.25 to 1.02), and fresh frozen plasma (mean difference -0.91; 95% CI: -2.02 to 0.19) transfusion. The evidence on mortality and other outcomes was uncertain (very low-certainty evidence, down-graded due to risk of biases, imprecision, and inconsistency).
Conclusions: Overall, the certainty of the evidence provided by the trials was too low for us to be certain of the benefits and harms of viscoelastic haemostatic assay in non-cardiac surgical settings. More, larger, and better-designed RCTs should be carried out in this area.