Is there a limit to massive blood transfusion after severe trauma?

George C. Velmahos, Linda Chan, Michael Chan, Raymond Tatevossian, Edward E. Cornwell, Juan A. Asensio, Thomas V. Berne, Demetrios Demetriades

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the hypothesis that the futility of short-term care for trauma patients requiring emergency operation can be determined based on the number of units of blood transfused and associated risk factors. Design: A 4-year retrospective review of a cohort of critically injured patients who underwent an emergency operation. Setting: A large-volume, academic level I, urban trauma center. Patients: One hundred forty-one consecutive patients received massive blood transfusions of 20 U or more of blood during preoperative and intraoperative resuscitation (highest, 68 U). There were 43 survivors (30.5%) and 98 nonsurvivors (69.5%). Main Outcome Measures: Mortality. Results: The number of blood units transfused did not differ between survivors and nonsurvivors (mean ± SD, 31 ± 11 vs 32 ± 10; P = .52). Stepwise multiple regression analysis identified 3 independent variables associated with mortality: need for aortic clamping, intraoperative use of inotropes, and intraoperative time with a systolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or less. However, blood usage was not different among the subgroups of patients who had 1 or more of these risk factors. When patients were stratified according to the amount of massive blood transfusion (20-29, 30- 39, 40-49, and 50-68 U), the incidence of risk factors was not different across the 4 subgroups. Survival in the presence of risk factors was not affected by the amount of blood transfused. Conclusions: Although mortality among critically injured patients requiring operation and massive blood transfusion can be correlated with independent risk factors, discontinuation of short-term care cannot be justified based on the need for massive blood transfusion of up to 68 units.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)947-952
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


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