Massive transfusion

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This page is for adult patients; for pediatric patients see Massive transfusion (peds)


  • Although massive transfusion (MTP) does not have a universal definition, it is generally described as transfusion of >10 units of blood products (specifically Packed red blood cells within a 24-hour period)
  • In addition to controlling hemorrhage the greatest concern during MTP is the lethal triad:[1]
    1. Hypothermia
    2. Coagulopathy
    3. Acidosis
  • Trauma Associated Coagulopathy[2]
    • Platelet defects (worse with TBI), endothelial injury, and loss of coagulation factors and platelets through hemorrhage consumption of platelets and coagulation factors
  • During MTP, focus is on "balanced resuscitation" with clotting factors (FFP) and platelets”[3]
  • The PROPPR trial[4] examined a 1:1:1 (FFP:Plt:pRBC) vs 1:1:2 protocol. There was no difference in mortality at 1 or 30 days; however, the 1:1:1 group experienced less death due to exsanguination in the first day.
  • The goal of MTP is to resuscitate and temporize management until definitive operative repair can be accomplished.
  • MTP should follow should follow local institutional protocols[5]


Adjunctive Agents

  • Tranexamic acid (TXA) lowers risk of death if administed in less then 3 hours after injury in trauma patients with significant hemorrhage (CRASH-2 trail)[6]
  • Thromboelastography (TEG) has been extensively studied in cardiac surgery and quantifies the coagulation cascade
  • Factor VII, studied in the CONTROL trial, showed no mortality benefit and was terminated early[7]
    • Other studies of Factor VII have raised concerns for MI and adverse thrombotic events
  • Consider giving calcium and magnesium IV supplementation if approaching > 4 units of pRBCs

Example Protocol

MTP pack contains 6 units RBCs and 4 units FFP (O neg uncrossmatched rbc's and AB FFP until completed screen)

  1. Attending physician activates protocol
  2. Charge nurse contacts blood bank and sends runner to pick up MTP pack
  3. TEG is drawn
  4. First MTP pack is delivered within 30min of ordering
  5. Transfusion continues until patient expires or is hemodynamicallys stable with cessation of bleeding
  6. If second pack is ordered it contains an additional single donor platelet pack (six-pack)
  7. The third pack substitutes cryoprecipitate for platelets
  8. PT, aPTT, and Fibrinogen is ordered q2 hours for the duration of the massive transfusion event


External Links

See Also


  1. Kashuk JL, et al. Major abdominal vascular trauma — A unified approach. J Trauma. 1982;22(8):672–679.
  3. Spinella PC. Resuscitation and transfusion principles for traumatic hemorrhagic shock. Blood Rev. Blood Rev. 2009 Nov;23(6):231-40.
  4. Holcomb J. et al. Transfusion of Plasma, Platelets, and Red Blood Cells in a 1:1:1 vs a 1:1:2 Ratio and Mortality in Patients With Severe Trauma The PROPPR Randomized Clinical Trial JAMA. 2015
  5. ACS TQIP Massive Transfusion in Trauma Guidelines fulltext
  6. Shakur H, et al. "Effects of tranexamic acid on death, vascular occlusive events, and blood transfusion in trauma patients with significant haemorrhage". The Lancet. 2010. 376(9734):23-32.
  7. Hauser CJ. et al. Results of the CONTROL trial: efficacy and safety of recombinant activated Factor VII in the management of refractory traumatic hemorrhage. J Trauma. 2010 Sep;69(3):489-500.
  8. Roback JD (ed). Non-infectious complications of blood transfusion. Chapter 27, AABB Technical Manual, 17th edition. AABB, Bethesda, 2011.