Epidemiology of massive transfusion: a common intervention in need of a definition

Zoe K. McQuilten, Andrew W. J. Flint, Laura Green, Brenton Sanderson, James Winearls, Erica M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While massive transfusion (MT) recipients account for a small proportion of all transfused patients, they account for approximately 10% of blood products issued. Furthermore, MT events pose organisational and logistical challenges for health care providers, laboratory and transfusion services. Overall, the majority of MT events are to support major bleeding in surgical patients, trauma and gastrointestinal haemorrhage. The clinical context in which the bleeding event occurred, the number of blood products required, patient age and comorbidities are the most important predictors of outcomes for short- and long-term survival. These data are important to inform blood services, clinicians and health care providers in order to improve care and outcomes for patients with major bleeding. There is no standard accepted definition of MT, with most definitions based on number of blood components administered within a certain time-period or activation of MT protocol. The type of definition used has implications for the clinical characteristics of MT recipients included in epidemiological and interventional studies. In order to understand trends in incidence of massive transfusion, variation in blood utilisation and patient outcomes, and to harmonise research outcomes, a standard and universally accepted definition of MT is urgently required.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTransfusion Medicine Reviews
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Sep 2021


  • Massive transfusion
  • Epidemiology
  • Major bleeding
  • Red cell transfusion


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