BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to characterize the cause of death in severely injured trauma patients to define potential responses to resuscitation. METHODS: Prospective analysis of 190 critically injured patients who underwent massive transfusion protocol (MTP) activation or received massive transfusion (>10 U of packed red blood cells [RBC] per 24 hours). Cause of death was adjudicated into one of four categories as follows: (1) exsanguination, (2) early physiologic collapse, (3) late physiologic collapse, and (4) nonsurvivable injury. RESULTS: A total 190 patients underwent massive transfusion or MTP with 76 deaths (40% mortality), of whom 72 deaths were adjudicated to one of four categories: 33.3% died of exsanguination, 16.6% died of early physiologic collapse, 11.1% died of late physiologic collapse, while 38.8% died of nonsurvivable injuries. Patients who died of exsanguination were younger and had the highest RBC/fresh frozen plasma ratio (2.97 [2.24]), although the early physiologic collapse group survived long enough to use the most blood products (p < 0.001). The late physiologic collapse group had significantly fewer penetrating injuries, was older, and had significantly more crystalloid use but received a lower RBC/fresh frozen plasma ratio (1.50 [0.42]). Those who were determined to have a nonsurvivable injury had a lower presenting Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, fewer penetrating injuries, and higher initial blood pressure reflecting a preponderance of nonsurvivable traumatic brain injury. The average survival time for patients with potentially survivable injuries was 2.4 hours versus 18.4 hours for nonsurvivable injuries (p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Severely injured patients requiring MTP have a high mortality rate. However, no studies to date have addressed the cause of death after MTP. Characterization of cause of death will allow targeting of surgical and resuscitative conduct to allow extension of the physiologic reserve time, therefore rendering previously nonsurvivable injury potentially survivable. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic study, level III.
- Massive transfusion
- cause of death
- epidemiology of trauma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine