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Survey evaluating clinical equipoise around platelet transfusion after head injury and traumatic intracranial haemorrhage (ICH) in patients on antiplatelet medications


Introduction Patients aged 60 or over account for over half of the severely injured trauma patients and a traumatic brain injury is the most common injury sustained. Many of these patients are taking antiplatelet medications but there is clinical equipoise about the role of platelet transfusion in patients with traumatic intracranial haemorrhage (ICH) taking prior antiplatelet medications.

Method A prepiloted survey was designed to explore a range of clinical issues in managing patients taking antiplatelet medications admitted with a traumatic brain injury. This was sent via email to consultants and specialty registrar members of a variety of relevant UK societies and working groups in the fields of emergency medicine, critical care, neurosurgery and haematology.

Results 193 responses were received, mostly from colleagues in emergency medicine, neurosurgery, anaesthesia and haematology. Respondents indicated that there is a lack of evidence to support the use of platelet transfusion in this patient population but also lack of evidence of harm. Results also demonstrate uncertainties as to whether platelets should be given to all or some patients and doubt regarding the value of viscoelastic testing.

Discussion Our survey demonstrates equipoise in current practice with regards to platelet transfusion in patients with a traumatic ICH who are taking antiplatelet medication. There is support for additional trials to investigate the effect of platelet transfusion in this rising population of older, high-risk patients, in order to provide a better evidence-base for guideline development.

  • trauma
  • head
  • accidental falls
  • emergency department
  • haematology
  • geriatrics

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Anonymous survey response data. Data available from first author—CA, Department of Geratology, Oxford University Hospitals.

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