Management Dilemmas in Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury on Anticoagulants
Introduction A normal individual with normal hemostasis maintains a balance between thrombus formation and destruction using a complex interaction between the smooth vascular endothelium, the coagulation cascade, the platelet aggregation system, and the fibrinolysis mechanism. However, in patients who are on either antiplatelet drugs (APDs) or anticoagulants (ACDs), this normal homeostasis is altered. This is further altered with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and thus, we need specific guidelines to address this subpopulation to decide the length of observation, avoid unnecessary hospitalization, and relieve the economic burden. There exists a very few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for this clinical question and a thorough risk–benefit analysis for each patient is prudent before making clinical decisions.
Materials and Methods This is a review article based on available evidence published in literature.
Results There are multiple therapeutic drugs which act on various stages of the coagulation mechanism. These include antiplatelet agents, Vitamin K antagonists, Heparin, Antithrombin III, and Glycoprotein IIb/IIIA inhibitors. While the initial management of head injuries depends on the severity of head injuries, management of head injuries in patients on anticoagulants needs to be approached with care and caution. There are multiple dilemmas including role of CT scans, duration and reason for admission, when to restart anticoagulation, etc. We suggest the recommendations based on available literature; however, no evidence can be given as these are not based on any RCTs, due to paucity of such studies.
Conclusion The guidelines are based on previously conducted trials and consensus. We have attempted to provide a pragmatic and practical approach to such cases with the hope that it will ensure minimum risks with the best possible patient outcomes. The entire journey from patient presentation to follow-up has been covered in this article and we hope this would be useful to all practicing in the field of neurotrauma.
02 September 2020 (online)
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