Trauma is a major cause of mortality globally, with post-traumatic hemorrhage being the leading cause of death amongst trauma patients. In this paper, the authors review the underlying pathophysiology of trauma-related hemorrhagic shock, specifically the factors which contribute to the development of the acute coagulopathy of trauma shock (ACoTS). We then review the best available evidence for treatment strategies in the pre-hospital setting, as well as the in-hospital setting. Interventions that are strongly supported in the literature include utilization of a well-organized trauma system with direct transport to a designated trauma centre, the early use of tranexamic acid, and damage control orthopaedic surgical techniques and resuscitation protocols. Targeted resuscitation is an evolving field, with use of thromboelastography to guide resuscitation being a particularly promising area. Special trauma populations at particularly high risk are also reviewed, including the geriatric population, as well as unstable pelvic fractures, which are each at increased risk for poor outcomes, and deserve special attention. Major advances have been made in this important area, and ongoing research into the understanding and correction of ACoTS will continue to guide practice.
Keywords: Acute coagulopathy of trauma; Blood loss; Hemorrhage; Hemostasis; Thromboelastography.
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