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KEY POINTS

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  1. The life span of platelets ranges from 7 to 10 days. Drugs that interfere with platelet function include aspirin, clopidogrel, prasugrel, dipyridamole, and the glycoprotein IIb/IIIa (GP IIb/IIIa) inhibitors. Approximately 5 to 7 days should pass from the time the drug is stopped until an elective procedure is performed.

  2. The acute coagulopathy of trauma results from a combination of activation of protein C and hyperfibrinolysis. It is distinct from disseminated intravascular coagulation, is present on arrival to the emergency department, and is associated with an increase in mortality.

  3. Newer anticoagulants like dabigatran and rivaroxaban have no readily available method of detection of the degree of anticoagulation and may not be readily reversible.

  4. Therapeutic anticoagulation preoperatively and postoperatively is becoming increasingly more common. The patient’s risk of intraoperative and postoperative bleeding should guide the need for reversal of anticoagulation therapy preoperatively and the timing of its reinstatement postoperatively.

  5. Damage control resuscitation has three basic components: permissive hypotension, minimizing crystalloid-based resuscitation, and the administration of predefined blood products.

  6. The need for massive transfusion should be anticipated, and guidelines should be in place to provide early and increased amounts of red blood cells, plasma, and platelets.

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BIOLOGY OF HEMOSTASIS

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Hemostasis is a complex process whose function is to limit blood loss from an injured vessel. Four major physiologic events participate in the hemostatic process: vascular constriction, platelet plug formation, fibrin formation, and fibrinolysis. Although each tends to be activated in order, the four processes are interrelated so that there is a continuum and multiple reinforcements. The process is shown schematically in Fig. 4-1.

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Figure 4-1.

Biology of hemostasis. The four physiologic processes that interrelate to limit blood loss from an injured vessel are illustrated and include vascular constriction, platelet plug formation, fibrin clot formation, and fibrinolysis.

Graphic Jump Location
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Vascular Constriction

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Vascular constriction is the initial response to vessel injury. It is more pronounced in vessels with medial smooth muscles and is dependent on local contraction of smooth muscle. Vasoconstriction is subsequently linked to platelet plug formation. Thromboxane A2 (TXA2) is produced locally at the site if injury via the release of arachidonic acid from platelet membranes and is a potent constrictor of smooth muscle. Similarly, endothelin synthesized by injured endothelium and serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT]) released during platelet aggregation are potent vasoconstrictors. Lastly, bradykinin and fibrinopeptides, which are involved in the coagulation schema, are also capable of contracting vascular smooth muscle.

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The extent of vasoconstriction varies with the degree of vessel injury. A small artery with a lateral incision may remain open due to physical forces, whereas a similarly sized vessel that is completely transected may contract to the extent that bleeding ceases spontaneously.

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Platelet Function

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Platelets are anucleate fragments of megakaryocytes. The ...

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