We all want to stop bleeding. Here’s a quick review from Dr Alan Garner of a paper coming out of Iran that looks at haemostatic dressings.
Hatamabadi HR et al. Celox-Coated Gauze for the Treatment of Civilian Penetrating Trauma: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Trauma Monthly. 2014;20:e23862. dii: 10.5812/traumamon.23862
There is not a lot of data on haemostatic dressings in the civilian context and human data from the military context is not randomised for obvious reasons. It is therefore nice to see a RCT on this subject in humans. In the study they compare the time to haemorrhage control and amount of haemorrhage in stab wounds to the limbs between 80 patients treated with Celox gauze versus 80 patients treated with normal gauze.
The study is from an emergency department in Tehran and is pragmatic in design. There are some limitations of the study worth mentioning. It was open label, and the amount of bleeding was measured simply by the number of gauze squares used. Weighing the gauze would have been a more accurate way to estimate ongoing blood loss.
The details of how the gauze was applied isn’t that clear. To be effective the gauze needs to be packed into the wound against the bleeding vessel. Was the Celox used in this way to maximise the chances it would work? I can’t tell from the paper. Oh, and the company provided the product for the trial.
Perhaps the biggest puzzle in the design is that patients with really significant haemorrhage (those requiring transfusion) were excluded from the trial. This is the group where you really want to know if the stuff works. You could theorise that this group of patients may have trauma coagulopathy and the method of action of Celox (being by electrostatic attraction and independent of clotting factors) might be particularly useful and a bigger difference between groups may have been found. I guess that will have to wait for another day and another trial that someone works through ethics.
Acknowledging all of this, there was a significant difference in the time taken to achieve haemostasis and the amount of ongoing bleeding with the Celox gauze looked superior by both measures.
This suggests that it remains reasonable to use these products as evidence continues to point to efficacy. Of course these agents are not a magic bullet and all the other principles of haemostasis need to be applied as a package, including urgent transport to a surgical facility.