BMJ open 2017 03 297(3) e014472 doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014472
Optimisation of healthcare practices in patients sustaining a traumatic brain injury is of major concern given the high incidence of death and long-term disabilities. Considering the brain’s susceptibility to ischaemia, strategies to optimise oxygenation to brain are needed. While red blood cell (RBC) transfusion is one such strategy, specific RBC strategies are debated. We aimed to evaluate RBC transfusion frequency, determinants of transfusions and associated clinical outcomes.
We conducted a retrospective multicentre cohort study using data from the National Trauma Registry of Canada. Patients admitted with moderate or severe traumatic brain injury to participating hospitals between April 2005 and March 2013 were eligible. Patient information on blood products, comorbidities, interventions and complications from the Discharge Abstract Database were linked to the National Trauma Registry data. Relative weights analyses evaluated the contribution of each determinant. We conducted multivariate robust Poisson regression to evaluate the association between potential determinants, mortality, complications, hospital-to-home discharge and RBC transfusion. We also used proportional hazard models to evaluate length of stay for time to discharge from ICU and hospital.
Among the 7062 patients with traumatic brain injury, 1991 patients received at least one RBC transfusion during their hospital stay. Female sex, anaemia, coagulopathy, sepsis, bleeding, hypovolemic shock, other comorbid illnesses, serious extracerebral trauma injuries were all significantly associated with RBC transfusion. Serious extracerebral injuries altogether explained 61% of the observed variation in RBC transfusion. Mortality (risk ratio (RR) 1.23 (95% CI 1.13 to 1.33)), trauma complications (RR 1.38 (95% CI 1.32 to 1.44)) and discharge elsewhere than home (RR 1.88 (95% CI 1.75 to 2.04)) were increased in patients who received RBC transfusion. Discharge from ICU and hospital were also delayed in transfused patients.
RBC transfusion is common in patients with traumatic brain injury and associated with unfavourable outcomes. Trauma severity is an important determinant of RBC transfusion. Prospective studies are needed to further evaluate optimal transfusion strategies in traumatic brain injury.