Single Institution Trial Comparing Whole Blood vs Balanced Component Therapy: 50 Years Later

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Journal of the American College of Surgeons


Background: Early close ratio transfusion with balanced component therapy (BCT) has been associated with improved outcomes in patients with severe hemorrhage; however, this modality is not comparable with whole blood (WB) constituents. We compared use of BCT vs WB to determine if one yielded superior outcomes in patients with severe hemorrhage. We hypothesized that WB would lead to reduced in-hospital mortality and blood product volume if given in the first 24 hours of admission. Study design: This was a 1-year, single institution, prospective, observational study comparing BCT with WB in adult (18+y) trauma patients with active hemorrhage who required blood transfusion upon arrival at the emergency department. Primary endpoint was in-hospital mortality. Secondary endpoints included 24-hour transfusion volumes, in-hospital clinical outcomes, and complications. Results: A total of 253 patients were included; 71.1% received BCT and 29.9% WB. The WB cohort had significantly more penetrating trauma (64.4% vs 48.9%; p = 0.03) and higher Shock Index (1.12 vs 0.92; p = 0.04). WB patients received significantly fewer units of packed red blood cells (PRBCs) (p < 0.001) and fresh frozen plasma (FFP) (p = 0.04), with a lower incidence of ARDS (p = 0.03) and fewer ventilator days (p = 0.03). Kaplan Meier survival analysis revealed no difference in survival between the 2 transfusion strategies (p = 0.80). When adjusted for various markers of injury severity and critical illness in Cox regression analysis, WB remained unassociated with mortality (hazard ratio 1.25; 95% CI 0.60–2.58; p = 0.55). Conclusions: There was no difference in survival rates when comparing BCT with WB. In the WB group, the incidence of ARDS, duration of mechanical ventilation, massive transfusion protocol (MTP) activation, and transfusion volumes were significantly reduced. Further research should be directed at analyzing whether there is a true hemorrhage-related pathophysiologic benefit of WB when compared with BCT.

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Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins