December 11, 2006 11:30 ET

Drug to increase survival of patients suffering from severe bleeding

Attention: City Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Media Editor, News Editor TORONTO, ON--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 11, 2006) - A new study led by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre trauma surgeons Dr. Sandro Rizoli and Dr. Homer Tien, released today in the Journal of Trauma, shows that an intravenous injection of a drug called 'recombinant activated coagulation factor VII' (rFVIIa) could improve the chances of survival for trauma patients suffering from massive bleeding.

"These results are very promising," says Dr. Rizoli, co-lead on the study. "More than half of all trauma deaths within the first 24 hours of hospitalization are from severe hemorrhage, and this drug has the potential to help prevent some of these deaths."

When rFVIIa is administered intravenously to patients receiving large amounts of blood transfusion, it has the ability to stop bleeding by binding to tissue at the site of injury, triggering a local clotting process. Studies of rFVIIa conducted at various centres in the early 2000s, including Sunnybrook, showed that the drug was effective in reducing bleeding, but until now there has been no evidence showing that administering rFVIIa could indeed improve chances of survival for trauma patients.

This retrospective study looked at all eligible trauma patients admitted to Sunnybrook from January 1, 2000 to January 31, 2005 who had suffered from massive bleeding and received rFVIIa. Not only was rFVIIa found to improve chances of survival upon arrival to the trauma room, administering rFVIIa was associated with an overall in-hospital survival advantage as well.

"When a patient is suffering from severe hemorrhage, the body's ability to clot deteriorates, even after the main source of bleeding is controlled" says Dr. Tien. "This trial has shown that the trauma team might be able to rely on rFVIIa to stop further hemorrhage and save lives after initial surgical intervention is performed to stem bleeding."

In spite of the good results reported, the authors acknowledge that studies with larger numbers of patients are needed to establish guidelines for the usage of rFVIIa in trauma.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is transforming health care through the dedication of its more than 10,000 staff members who provide compassionate and innovative patient focused care. An internationally recognized leader in women's health, academic research and education and an affiliation with the University of Toronto distinguishes Sunnybrook as one of Canada's premier health sciences centres. Sunnybrook specializes in caring for newborns, adults and the elderly, treating and preventing cancer, heart problems, orthopaedic and arthritic conditions and traumatic injuries.
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