Measuring coagulation in burns: an evidence-based systematic review

Scars Burn Heal. 2017 Sep 5:3:2059513117728201. doi: 10.1177/2059513117728201. eCollection 2017 Jan-Dec.


Introduction: Dynamic monitoring of coagulation is important to predict both haemorrhagic and thrombotic complications and to guide blood product administration. Reducing blood loss and tailoring blood product administration may improve patient outcome and reduce mortality associated with transfusion. The current literature lacks a systematic, critical appraisal of current best evidence on which clinical decisions may be based.

Objectives: Establishing the role of different coagulation markers in burn patients, diagnosing coagulopathy, tailoring blood product administration and indicating prognosis.

Methods: Literature during 2004-2017 from the Cochrane Library, PubMed, Scopus, Medline and Embase was reviewed. Eligibility criteria included randomised controlled trials, systematic reviews, multi-/single-centre study and meta-analyses. Keywords searched were 'burns', 'blood coagulation disorders', 'rotem', 'blood coagulation' and 'thromboelastography'. The PRISMA flow system was used for stratification and the CASP framework for appraisal of the studies retrieved.

Results: In total, 13 articles were included after inclusion/exclusion criteria had been applied to the initial 79 studies retrieved. Hypercoagulation increases in proportion to the severity of thermal injury. Whole blood testing, using thrombelastography (TEG) and rotation thromboelastometry (ROTEM), was superior to standard plasma based tests, including prothrombin time (PT) and activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) at detecting burn-related coagulopathies.

Conclusions: Routine laboratory markers such as PT/APTT are poor indicators of coagulation status in burns patients. Viscoelastic tests, such as TEG and ROTEM, are efficient, fast and have a potential use in the management of burn patients; however, strong evidence is lacking. This review highlights the need for more randomised controlled trials, to guide future practice.

Keywords: Burns; clotting; coagulation tests; point-of-care; rotation thromboelastometry; thrombelastography; viscoelastic test.

Publication types

  • Review