Background: Haemorrhage is a major cause of mortality and morbidity following both military and civilian trauma. Haemostatic dressings may offer effective haemorrhage control as part of prehospital treatment.
Aim: To conduct a systematic review of the clinical literature to assess the prehospital use of haemostatic dressings in controlling traumatic haemorrhage, and determine whether any haemostatic dressings are clinically superior.
Methods: MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were searched using predetermined criteria. The reference lists of all returned review articles were screened for eligible studies. Two authors independently undertook the search, performed data extraction, and risk of bias and Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation quality assessments. Meta-analysis could not be undertaken due to study and clinical heterogeneity.
Results: Our search yielded 470 studies, of which 17 met eligibility criteria, and included 809 patients (469 military and 340 civilian). There were 15 observational studies, 1 case report and 1 randomised controlled trial. Indications for prehospital haemostatic dressing use, wound location, mechanism of injury, and source of bleeding were variable. Seven different haemostatic dressings were reported with QuikClot Combat Gauze being the most frequently applied (420 applications). Cessation of bleeding ranged from 67% to 100%, with a median of 90.5%. Adverse events were only reported with QuikClot granules, resulting in burns. No adverse events were reported with QuikClot Combat Gauze use in three studies. Seven of the 17 studies did not report safety data. All studies were at risk of bias and assessed of 'very low' to 'moderate' quality.
Conclusions: Haemostatic dressings offer effective prehospital treatment for traumatic haemorrhage. QuikClot Combat Gauze may be justified as the optimal agent due to the volume of clinical data and its safety profile, but there is a lack of high-quality clinical evidence, and randomised controlled trials are warranted.
Level of evidence: Systematic review, level IV.
Keywords: Prehospital; haemorrhage; haemostatic; trauma.
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