Objective To validate previous findings of the effects of erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA) administration following severe traumatic brain injury.
Design Prospective observational study of all patients with severe traumatic brain injury admitted to the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) at our institution from January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2010 (head Abbreviated Injury Scale score ≥3). Propensity scores were calculated to match patients who received ESA within 30 days after admission to patients who did not receive ESA.
Patients A total of 566 patients with severe traumatic brain injury were admitted to the SICU. After matching in a 1:1 ratio, 75 matched pairs were analyzed.
Main Outcome Measures Δ Glasgow Coma Scale score (difference between admission and SICU discharge), in-hospital morbidity, and mortality.
Results Patients who received ESA and control subjects who did not receive ESA had similar age, mechanisms of injury, vital signs on admission, Abbreviated Injury Scale scores, Injury Severity Scores, and specific intracranial injuries. Patients who received ESA experienced significantly longer lengths of stay in the SICU (mean [SD], 16.1 [1.3] days vs 8.6 [0.8] days; P < .001) and comparable SICU-free days. There was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of major in-hospital complications including deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism when comparing the 2 study cohorts. The Δ Glasgow Coma Scale mean [standard error of the mean] score was 3.0 [0.4] and 2.4 [0.5] in patients who received ESA and those who did not, respectively (P = .33). However, in-hospital mortality was significantly lower for patients who received ESA compared with those who did not (9.3% vs 25.3%; odds ratio, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.08-0.75; P = .012).
Conclusions Erythropoiesis-stimulating agent administration demonstrates a significant survival advantage without an increase in morbidity in patients with severe traumatic brain injury.