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Management of acquired coagulopathy in acute paediatrics


Acquired coagulopathy is a relatively uncommon occurrence in acute paediatrics but when it occurs is usually associated with significant underlying pathology and often with critical illness. It can be caused by a number of disease processes but infection, blood loss, iatrogenic causes and liver dysfunction are among the commonest. The blood coagulation cascade is complex and intersects with many other physiological pathways. It is also subject to developmental changes, and ‘normal’ coagulation and haemostasis change considerably during early life. The diagnosis of abnormal coagulation and when treatment should be initiated is influenced both by age and developmental status and limited by the range of tests routinely available to clinicians. Treatment has predominantly involved transfusion of plasma products (usually fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate) but a number of pharmaceutical and human-derived options are now available. Although plasma products are less frequently transfused than red cells or platelets, their use continues to increase and has not followed the reducing usage of other blood components. This article discusses the aetiology of coagulopathy, describes the commonly available diagnostic tests and outlines the evidence available to guide paediatricians when treating acutely ill children with acquired coagulopathy.

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