Whole blood transfusion in the treatment of acute hemorrhage, a systematic review and meta-analysis

Robert A. van der Horst*, Tim W.H. Rijnhout, Femke Noorman, Boudewijn L.S. Borger van der Burg, Oscar J.F. van Waes, Michael H.J. Verhofstad, Rigo Hoencamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Whole blood (WB) transfusion received renewed interest after recent armed conflicts. The effectiveness as compared with blood component transfusion (BCT) is, however, still topic of debate. Therefore, this study investigated the effect of WB ± BCT as compared with BCT transfusion on survival in trauma patients with acute hemorrhage. METHODS: Studies published up to January 16, 2023, including patients with traumatic hemorrhage comparing WB ± BCT and BCT were included in meta-analysis. Subanalyses were performed on the effectiveness of WB in the treatment of civilian or military trauma patients, patients with massive hemorrhage and on platelet (PLT)/red blood cell (RBC), plasma/RBC and WB/RBC ratios. Methodological quality of studies was interpreted using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. The study protocol was registered in PROSPERO under number CRD42022296900. RESULTS: Random effect pooled odds ratio (OR) for 24 hours mortality in civilian and military patients treated with WB as compared with BCT was 0.72 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.53-0.97). In subanalysis of studies conducted in civilian setting (n = 20), early (4 hours, 6 hours, and emergency department) and 24 hours mortality was lower in WB groups compared with BCT groups (OR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.44-0.96 and OR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.52-0.98). No difference in late mortality (28 days, 30 days, in-hospital) was found. In military settings (n = 7), there was no difference in early, 24 hours, or late mortality between groups. The WB groups received significant higher PLT/RBC ( p = 0.030) during early treatment and significant higher PLT/RBC and plasma/RBC ratios during 24 hours of treatment ( p = 0.031 and p = 0.007). The overall risk of bias in the majority of studies was judged as serious due to serious risk on confounding and selection bias, and unclear information regarding cointerventions. CONCLUSION: Civilian trauma patients with acute traumatic hemorrhage treated with WB ± BCT as compared to BCT had lower odds on early and 24-hour mortality. In addition, WB transfusion resulted in higher PLT/RBC and plasma/RBC ratios. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis; Level III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-266
Number of pages11
JournalThe journal of trauma and acute care surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

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