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Adv Ther. 2014 Jan;31(1):66-90. doi: 10.1007/s12325-013-0083-7. Epub 2013 Dec 14.

Use of plasma in the management of central nervous system bleeding: evidence-based consensus recommendations.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Englewood, NJ, USA.



Central nervous system (CNS) hemorrhage is a potentially life-threatening condition, especially in patients with acquired coagulopathy. In this setting, treatment of CNS bleeding includes hemostatic therapy to replenish coagulation factors. There is currently a debate over the hemostatic efficacy of plasma in many clinical settings, alongside increasing concern about transfusion-associated adverse events. Despite these concerns, plasma is widely used. Moreover, plasma transfusion practice is variable and there is currently no uniform approach to treatment of traumatic, surgical or spontaneous CNS hemorrhage. This study addresses the need for guidance on the indications and potential risks of plasma transfusion in these settings. An Expert Consensus Panel was convened to develop recommendations guiding the use of plasma to treat bleeding and/or coagulopathy associated with CNS hemorrhage. The panel did not advise on the best treatment available but rather proposed recommendations to be used in the formulation of local procedures to support emergency physicians in their decision-making process.


Evidence was systematically gathered from the literature and rated using methods established by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network. The evidence was used to develop graded consensus recommendations, which are presented along with the evidence-based rationale for each in this report.


Sixty-five articles were identified covering both vitamin K antagonist-anticoagulation reversal and treatment of bleeding/coagulopathy in non-anticoagulated patients. Recommendations were then developed in four clinical scenarios within each area, and agreed on unanimously by all members of the panel.


The Panel considered plasma to be reasonable therapy for CNS hemorrhage requiring urgent correction of coagulopathy, although physicians should be prepared for potential cardiopulmonary complications, and evidence suggests that alternative therapies have superior risk-benefit profiles. Plasma could not be recommended in the absence of hemorrhage or coagulopathy. Consideration of the absolute risks and benefits of plasma therapy before transfusion is imperative.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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