For patients with cirrhosis, variceal bleeding, and severe coagulopathies, the use of thromboelastography (TEG) to guide transfusion decisions significantly reduced both transfusions and rates of late rebleeding, according to the results of a randomized, open-label trial.
“With the use of TEG, only 13.3% of patients received any blood product, as compared with all patients in the conventional transfusion group,” wrote Gyanranjan Rout, MD, and associates at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a tertiary care center in New Delhi. The rate of rebleeding at 6 weeks was more than two-thirds lower with TEG versus the comparator group. The findings were published in the.
Mortality remains high in patients with hepatic cirrhosis and variceal bleeding. Rebleeding is a major concern for these patients, and guidelines disagree on how to correct their coagulopathies so that they can undergo endoscopic treatment of varices. TEG “provides a global assessment of various factors promoting coagulation [platelets and clotting factors] and anticoagulation [fibrinolysis] in a single test,” the researchers noted.
Hence, they randomly assigned 60 adults with hepatic cirrhosis, acute variceal bleeding based on the Baveno VI consensus criteria, and significant coagulopathy (less than 50,000 platelets per mm3 or international normalized ratio under 1.8) to either conventional or TEG-guided transfusion. TEG of fresh blood was performed within 6 hours of hospital admission by using a MonoTEM-A automated thromboelastometer (Framar Hemologix, Rome).
Patients in the TEG group whose blood samples took more than 15 minutes to start forming fibrin received fresh frozen plasma (5 mL/kg of ideal body weight based on the Devine formula). Those whose maximum amplitude (an indicator of clot strength) was less than 30 mm received three units of platelets. Conventionally transfused patients received the same dose of fresh frozen plasma if their international normalized ratio was under 1.8 and the same amount of platelets if their platelet count was under 50,000 per mm3.
The groups had comparable baseline endoscopic findings, international normalized ratios, and hemoglobin and platelet levels. In the TEG group, only four (13.3%) patients underwent blood product transfusions, compared with every patient in the comparator group (P less than .001). Initial endoscopy showed similar control of bleeding between groups. At 5 days, rebleeding was noted in one (3.3%) TEG patient and four (13.3%) conventional transfusion patients (P = .167). At 42 days, this difference reached statistical significance (10% vs. 36.7%; P = .012).
The 6-week mortality rates were 13.3% in the TEG group and 26.7% in the conventional transfusion group (P = .176). The lack of statistical significance “can be explained by the fact that our study was not adequately powered to address the difference in mortality between the two study arms,” the researchers wrote.
The study excluded patients with sepsis, a major reason for coagulopathy in patients with cirrhosis. It also did not assess fibrinogen levels, and no patient received cryoprecipitate. “Our study provides initial data [supporting] the concept that TEG may help to decrease unnecessary blood transfusion and may even decrease 6-week rebleeding rate,” the researchers concluded. “However, this needs to be validated in a larger cohort of patients.”
The investigators did not disclose funding sources. They reported having no conflicts of interest.
SOURCE: Rout G et al. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2019 Apr 17. .