Background: Recalcitrant coagulopathy "the bloody vicious cycle," produces the majority of deaths after torso trauma. A model predicting this life-threatening complication may facilitate clinical decision-making.
Methods: We prospectively analyzed patients > 15 years old who received a massive transfusion (> 10 units of packed red blood cells (PRBC)/24 h) over a 2-year period. Excluding massive head injuries and pre-existing disease, the 58 study patients had a mean age = 35.4 years, Injury Severity Score (ISS) = 30.6, and PRBC = 24.2 units/24 h.
Results: Defined as prothrombin time of two times that of normal laboratory controls and partial thromboplastin time as two times that of normal laboratory controls, 27 patients (47%) developed life-threatening coagulopathy. Using a multiple logistic regression model, the four significant risk factors (with odds ratio) were (1) pH < 7.10 (12.3), (2) temperature < 34 degrees C (8.7), (3) ISS > 25 (7.7), and (4) systolic blood pressure < 70 mm Hg (5.8). The conditional probability of developing coagulopathy was ISS > 25 + systolic blood pressure < 70 mm Hg = 39%, ISS > 25 + temperature < 34 degrees C = 49%, ISS > 25 + pH < 7.10 = 49%; with all four risk factors the incidence was 98%.
Conclusion: Postinjury life-threatening coagulopathy in the seriously injured requiring massive transfusion is predicted by persistent hypothermia and progressive metabolic acidosis.