Background

The relationship between late clinical outcomes after injury and early dynamic changes between fibrinolytic states is not fully understood. The authors hypothesized that temporal transitions in fibrinolysis states using rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM) would aid stratification of adverse late clinical outcomes and improve understanding of how tranexamic acid modulates the fibrinolytic response and impacts mortality.

Methods

The authors conducted a secondary analysis of previously collected data from trauma patients enrolled into an ongoing prospective cohort study (International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number [ISRCTN] 12962642) at a major trauma center in the United Kingdom. ROTEM was performed on admission and at 24 h with patients retrospectively grouped into three fibrinolysis categories: tissue factor–activated ROTEM maximum lysis of less than 5% (low); tissue factor–activated ROTEM maximum lysis of 5 to 15% (normal); or tissue factor–activated ROTEM maximum lysis of more than 15% (high). Primary outcomes were multiorgan dysfunction syndrome and 28-day mortality.

Results

Seven-hundred thirty-one patients were included: 299 (41%) were treated with tranexamic acid and 432 (59%) were untreated. Two different cohorts with low-maximum lysis at 24 h were identified: (1) severe brain injury and (2) admission shock and hemorrhage. Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome was greatest in those with low-maximum lysis on admission and at 24 h, and late mortality was four times higher than in patients who remained normal during the first 24 h (7 of 42 [17%] vs. 9 of 223 [4%]; P = 0.029). Patients that transitioned to or remained in low-maximum lysis had increased odds of organ dysfunction (5.43 [95% CI, 1.43 to 20.61] and 4.85 [95% CI, 1.83 to 12.83], respectively). Tranexamic acid abolished ROTEM hyperfibrinolysis (high) on admission, increased the frequency of persistent low-maximum lysis (67 of 195 [34%]) vs. 8 of 79 [10%]; P = 0.002), and was associated with reduced early mortality (28 of 195 [14%] vs. 23 of 79 [29%]; P = 0.015). No increase in late deaths, regardless of fibrinolysis transition patterns, was observed.

Conclusions

Adverse late outcomes are more closely related to 24-h maximum lysis, irrespective of admission levels. Tranexamic acid alters early fibrinolysis transition patterns, but late mortality in patients with low-maximum lysis at 24 h is not increased.

Editor’s Perspective
What We Already Know about This Topic
  • Hyperfibrinolysis and hypofibrinolysis after traumatic injury can be determined by lysis parameters on thromboelastography and both are associated with adverse clinical events

  • Empiric tranexamic acid is administered to inhibit hyperfibrinolysis and improve outcomes

  • The ways in which early changes between lysis states affect clinical outcomes and the impact of tranexamic acid are not well understood

What This Article Tells Us That Is New
  • In a secondary analysis of previously collected data from injured patients at a major trauma center in the United Kingdom, late outcomes (e.g., multiple organ failure) were most closely related to hypofibrinolysis on thromboelastography 24 h after injury, irrespective of admission lysis parameters

  • Tranexamic acid is associated with lower early mortality and a shift toward hypofibrinolysis, but not with significant impact on late outcomes

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