The impact of hypothermia on outcomes in massively transfused patients

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2019 Mar;86(3):458-463. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000002144.


Background: Hypothermia is associated with poor outcomes after injury. The relationship between hypothermia during contemporary large volume resuscitation and blood product consumption is unknown. We evaluated this association, and the predictive value of hypothermia on mortality.

Methods: Patients predicted to receive massive transfusion at 12 level 1 trauma centers were randomized in the Pragmatic Randomized Optimal Platelet and Plasma Ratios (PROPPR) trial and were grouped into those who were hypothermic (<36°C) or normothermic (36-38.5°C) within the first 6 hours of emergency department arrival. The impact of hypothermia or normothermia on the volume of blood product required during the first 24 hours was determined via negative binomial regression, adjusting for treatment arm, injury severity score, mechanism, demographics, pre-emergency department fluid volume, blood administered before becoming hypothermic, pulse and systolic blood pressure on arrival, and the time exposed to hypothermic or normothermic temperatures.

Results: Of 680 patients, 590 had a temperature measured during the first 6 hours in hospital, and 399 experienced hypothermia. The mean number of red blood cell (RBC) units given to all patients in the first 24 hours of admission was 8.8 (95% confidence interval [CI], 7.9-9.6). In multivariable analysis, every 1°C decrease in temperature below 36.0°C was associated with a 10% increase (incidence rate ratio, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.89-0.92; p < 0.00) in consumption of RBCs during the first 24 hours of admission. There was no association between RBC administration and a temperature above 36°C. Hypothermia on arrival was an independent predictor of mortality, with an adjusted odds ratio of 2.7 (95% CI, 1.7-4.5; p < 0.00) for 24-hour mortality and 1.8 (95% CI, 1.3-2.4; p < 0.00) for 30-day mortality.

Conclusion: Hypothermia is associated with increase in blood product consumption and mortality. These findings support the maintenance of normothermia in trauma patients and suggest that further investigation on the impact of cooling or rewarming during massive transfusion is warranted.

Level of evidence: Prognostic, level III.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Transfusion / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / complications*
  • Hypothermia / mortality*
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Time Factors
  • Trauma Centers
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*