Better than FFP in trauma?

Replacement of clotting factors in bleeding trauma patients seems to be of benefit, but are coagulation factor concentrates safer than fresh frozen plasma? This retrospective study suggests they might be; prospective studies are recommended.

INTRODUCTION: Clinical observations together with recent research highlighted the role of coagulopathy in acute trauma care and early aggressive treatment has been shown to reduce mortality.

METHODS: Datasets from severely injured and bleeding patients with established coagulopathy upon emergency room (ER) arrival from two retrospective trauma databases, (i) TR-DGU (Germany) and (ii) Innsbruck Trauma Databank/ITB (Austria), that had received two different strategies of coagulopathy management during initial resuscitation, (i) fresh frozen plasma (FFP) without coagulation factor concentrates, and (ii) coagulation factor concentrates (fibrinogen and/or prothrombin complex concentrates) without FFP, were compared for morbidity, mortality and transfusion requirements using a matched-pair analysis approach.

RESULTS: There were no major differences in basic characteristics and physiological variables upon ER admission between the two cohorts that were matched. ITB patients had received substantially less packed red blood cell (pRBC) concentrates within the first 6h after admission (median 1.0 (IQR(25-75) 0-3) vs 7.5 (IQR(25-75) 4-12) units; p

CONCLUSION: Although there was no difference in overall mortality between both groups, significant differences with regard to morbidity and need for allogenic transfusion provide a signal supporting the management of acute post-traumatic coagulopathy with coagulation factor concentrates rather than with traditional FFP transfusions. Prospective and randomised clinical trials with sufficient patient numbers based upon this strategy are advocated.

The impact of fresh frozen plasma vs coagulation factor concentrates on morbidity and mortality in trauma-associated haemorrhage and massive transfusion.
Injury. 2011 Jul;42(7):697-701

Open book fractures and ultrasound

For me, this is one of those ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’ studies… extending the FAST scan to measure pubic symphyseal widening to detect open-book pelvic fractures. A pubic symphysis width of 25 mm was considered positive; the authors state that this width is considered diagnostic for anterior-posterior compression fracture of the pelvis in the non-pregnant patient.

Since only four of the 23 patients studied had radiological widening, the authors’ conclusions make sense: Further study with a larger cohort is needed to confirm this technique’s validity for diagnosing PS widening in APC pelvic fractures.

A reasonable question might be: ‘so what?’, especially if pelvic binders are routinely applied to polytrauma patients and radiographs are rapidly obtained. However as a retrieval medicine doctor working in remote and austere environments I wonder whether this could be useful to us. Perhaps if combined with this intervention?

BACKGROUND: The focused abdominal sonography in trauma (FAST) examination is a routine component of the initial work-up of trauma patients. However, it does not identify patients with retroperitoneal hemorrhage associated with significant pelvic trauma. A wide pubic symphysis (PS) is indicative of an open book pelvic fracture and a high risk of retroperitoneal bleeding.

STUDY OBJECTIVES: We hypothesized that an ultrasound image of the PS as part of the FAST examination (FAST-PS) would be an accurate method to determine if pubic symphysis diastasis was present.

METHODS: This is a comparative study of a diagnostic test on a convenience sample of 23 trauma patients at a Level 1 Trauma Center. The PS was measured sonographically in the Emergency Department (ED) and post-mortem (PM) at the State Medical Examiner. The ultrasound (US) measurements were then compared with PS width on anterior-posterior pelvis radiograph.

RESULTS: Twenty-three trauma patients were evaluated with both plain radiographs and US (11 PM, 12 ED). Four patients had radiographic PS widening (3 PM, 1 ED) and 19 patients had radiographically normal PS width; all were correctly identified with US. US measurements were compared with plain X-ray study by Bland-Altman plot. With one exception, US measurements were within 2 standard deviations of the radiographic measurements and, therefore, have excellent agreement. The only exception was a patient with pubic symphysis wider than the US probe.

CONCLUSION: Bedside ultrasound examination may be able to identify pubic symphysis widening in trauma patients. This potentially could lead to faster application of a pelvic binder and tamponade of bleeding.

Ultrasonographic determination of pubic symphyseal widening in trauma: the FAST-PS study
J Emerg Med. 2011 May;40(5):528-33