Effects of platelet and plasma transfusion on outcome in traumatic brain injury patients with moderate bleeding diatheses

Catherine O. Anglin, Jeffrey S. Spence, Matthew A. Warner, Christopher Paliotta, Caryn Harper, Carol Moore, Ravi Sarode, Christopher Madden, Ramon Diaz-Arrastia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Object. Coagulopathy and thrombocytopenia are common after traumatic brain injury (TBI), yet transfusion thresholds for mildly to moderately abnormal ranges of international normalized ratio and platelet count remain controversial. This study evaluates associations between fresh frozen plasma (FFP) and platelet transfusions with long-term functional outcome and survival in TBI patients with moderate hemostatic laboratory abnormalities. Methods. This study is a retrospective review of prospectively collected data of patients with mild to severe TBI. Data include patient demographics, several initial injury severity metrics, daily laboratory values, Glasgow Outcome Score- Extended (GOSE) scores, Functional Status Examination (FSE) scores, and survival to 6 months. Correlations were evaluated between these variables and transfusion of FFP, platelets, packed red blood cells (RBCs), cryoprecipitate, recombinant factor VIIa, and albumin. Ordinal regression was performed to account for potential confounding variables to further define relationships between transfusion status and long-term outcome. By analyzing collected data, mild to moderate coagulopathy was defined as an international normalized ratio 1.4-2.0, moderate thrombocytopenia as platelet count 50 × 109/L to 107 × 109/L, and moderate anemia as 21%-30% hematocrit. Results. In patients with mild to moderate laboratory hematological abnormalities, univariate analysis shows significant correlations between poor outcome scores and FFP, platelet, or packed RBC transfusion; the volume of FFP or packed RBCs transfused also correlated with poor outcome. Several measures of initial injury and laboratory abnormalities also correlated with poor outcome. Patient age, initial Glasgow Coma Scale score, and highest recorded serum sodium were included in the ordinal regression model using backward variable selection. In the moderate coagulopathy subgroup, patients transfused with FFP were more likely to have a lower GOSE score relative to those who did not receive a transfusion (OR 5.20 [95% CI 1.72-15.73]). Patients with moderate coagulopathy who received FFP and packed RBCs were even more likely to be have a lower GOSE score (OR 7.17 [95% CI 2.12-24.12]). Moderately anemic patients who received packed RBCs alone were more likely to have a worse long-term functional outcome as determined by GOSE and FSE scores (GOSE: OR 2.41 [95% CI 1.51-3.85]; and FSE: OR 3.27 [95% CI 2.00-5.35]). No transfusion types or combinations were noted to significantly correlate with the 6-month mortality in ordinal regression. Conclusions. In TBI patients with moderate coagulopathy, FFP transfusions alone or a combination of FFP and packed RBCs were associated with poorer long-term functional outcomes as measured by the GOSE. Red blood cell transfusions were associated with poor long-term functional outcome in TBI patients with moderate anemia. Platelet transfusion in patients with moderate thrombocytopenia was not significantly associated with outcome. Although transfusion is beneficial to many patients with severe hematological abnormalities, it is not without risk, and the indications for transfusion should be carefully considered in patients with moderate hematological abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-686
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Fresh frozen plasma
  • Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended
  • Platelet
  • Transfusion
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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