Cold-stored whole blood: A better method of trauma resuscitation?

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2019 Nov;87(5):1035-1041. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000002471.


Background: Cold-stored whole blood (CWB) provides a balance of red blood cells, plasma, and platelets in less anticoagulant volume than standard blood component therapy (BCT). We hypothesize that patients receiving CWB along with BCT have improved survival compared with patients receiving only BCT.

Methods: We performed a dual-center case-match study of trauma patients who received CWB and BCT at two urban, Level-I Trauma Centers. Criteria to receive CWB included boys 16 years of older, women older than 50 years, SBP less than 90 mm Hg, and identifiable source of hemorrhage. We performed a 2:1 propensity match against any trauma patient who received 1 unit or greater of packed red cells during their initial trauma bay resuscitation. Endpoints included trauma bay mortality, 30-day mortality, laboratory values at 4 hours and 24 hours, and overall blood product utilization. Comparisons were made with Wilcoxon-ranked sum and Fisher's exact test, p less than 0.05 was significant.

Results: Between both institutions, a total of 107 patients received CWB during the study period with 91 being matched to 182 BCT patients for analysis. Hemodynamic parameters of the patients in both groups at the time of presentation were similar. The CWB patients had higher mean hemoglobin (10 ± 2 g/dL vs. 11 ± 2 g/dL; p < 0.001) and hematocrit (29.2 ± 6.1% vs. 32.1 ± 5.8%; p < 0.001) at 24 hours. Importantly, trauma bay mortality was less in CWB patients (8.8% vs. 2.2%;p = 0.039). Thirty-day mortality was not different in CWB patients, and there were no differences in the total amount of blood products transfused at the 4-hour and 24-hour periods.

Conclusion: Cold-stored whole blood offers the benefit of a balanced resuscitation with improved trauma bay survival and higher mean hemoglobin at 24 hours. A larger, prospective study is needed to determine whether it has a longer-term survival benefit for severely injured patients.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic, level III.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Transfusion / methods*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Hemorrhage / blood
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Hemorrhage / mortality
  • Hemorrhage / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Resuscitation / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Hemoglobins