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Anaesthesia. 2015 Jan;70 Suppl 1:50-3, e18. doi: 10.1111/anae.12910.

The current place of tranexamic acid in the management of bleeding.

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Kings College University, London, UK; Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.


There has been an explosion of interest in the ability of tranexamic acid to reduce morbidity and mortality in surgical and traumatic bleeding. Tranexamic acid has been shown to reduce mortality due to traumatic bleeding by a third, without apparent safety issues. It is now clearly established that intravenous tranexamic acid reduces blood loss in patients with surgical bleeding and the need for transfusion. It can also be used topically to reduce bleeding. Its use is being explored further in large pragmatic trials in traumatic head injury, postpartum haemorrhage and in upper gastro-intestinal haemorrhage. There are few side effects from the use of tranexamic acid except when administered in high dose where neurological events have been noted, possibly relating to tranexamic acid interfering with cerebral GABA and glycine receptors. However, clinical studies suggest that there is no increased efficacy in using a higher dose, and that a dose of 1 g intravenously in an adult patient has maximal efficacy, which is not increased by higher doses. The CRASH-2 trauma trial clearly showed no increase in thrombotic events after its use in trauma, indeed there was a significant reduction in myocardial infarction. However, trials of tranexamic acid in surgery have failed to adequately study its effects on the risk of postoperative venous and possible reduction in arterial thrombo-embolism, and this needs to be the subject of future research.

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