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BMC Anesthesiol. 2015 Jun 9;15:86. doi: 10.1186/s12871-015-0074-0.

Prophylactic plasma and platelet transfusion in the critically Ill patient: just useless and expensive or even harmful?

Author information

Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Essen, Essen, Germany.
Tem International GmbH, Munich, Germany.
Department of General, Visceral and Transplant Surgery, University Hospital Essen, Essen, Germany.


It is still common practice to correct abnormal standard laboratory test results, such as increased INR or low platelet count, prior to invasive interventions, such as tracheostomy, central venous catheter insertion or liver biopsy, in critically ill patients. Data suggest that 30-90 % of plasma transfused for these indications is unnecessary and puts the patient at risk. Plasma transfusion is associated with a high risk of transfusion-associated adverse events such as transfusion-associated circulatory overload (TACO), transfusion-related lung injury (TRALI), transfusion-related immunomodulation (TRIM), and anaphylaxis/allergic reactions. Therefore, the avoidance of inappropriate plasma transfusion bears a high potential of improving patient outcomes. The prospective study by Durila et al., published recently in BMC Anesthesiology, provides evidence that tracheostomies can be performed without prophylactic plasma transfusion and bleeding complications in critically ill patients despite increased INR in case of normal thromboelastometry (ROTEM) results. Thromboelastometry-based restrictive transfusion management helped avoid unnecessary plasma and platelet transfusion, and should reduce the incidence of transfusion-related adverse events and transfusion-associated hospital costs. Therefore, the authors believe that thromboelastometry-based strategies should be implemented to optimize patient blood management in perioperative medicine.

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