Department of Surgery, University of California, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA. Department of Surgery, David Grant USAF Medical Center, Fairfield, CA 94535, USA. Department of Surgery, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60611, USA.
INTRODUCTION Tranexamic acid (TXA) is a standard component of Tactical Combat Casualty Care. Recent retrospective studies have shown that TXA use is associated with a higher rate of venous thromboembolic (VTE) events in combat-injured patients. We aim to determine if selective administration should be considered in the prolonged field care environment. MATERIALS AND METHODS We performed a systematic review using
the 2020 Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis guidelines. Clinical trials and observational studies of combat casualties published between January 1, 1960, and June 20, 2022, were included. We analyzed survival and VTE outcomes in TXA recipients and non-recipients. We discussed the findings of each paper in the context of current and future combat environments. RESULTS Six articles met criteria for inclusion. Only one study was powered to report mortality data, and it demonstrated a 7-fold increase in survival in severely injured TXA recipients. All studies reported an increased risk of VTE in TXA recipients, which exceeded rates in civilian literature. However, five of the six studies used overlapping data from the same registry and were limited by a high rate of missingness in pertinent variables. No VTE-related deaths were identified. CONCLUSIONS There may be an increased risk of VTE in combat casualties that receive TXA; however, this risk must be considered in the context of improved survival and an absence of VTE-associated deaths. To optimize combat casualty care during prolonged field care, it will be essential to ensure the timely administration of VTE chemoprophylaxis as soon as the risk of significant hemorrhage permits.