The evidence-based use of FFP and cryoprecipitate for abnormalities of coagulation tests and clinical coagulopathy.
There continues to be a general but unfounded enthusiasm for fresh frozen plasma (FFP) or frozen plasma (FP) usage across a range of clinical specialties in hospital practice. Plasma for transfusion is most often used where there are abnormal coagulation screening tests, either therapeutically in the face of bleeding, or prophylactically in nonbleeding patients prior to invasive procedures or surgery. Little evidence exists to inform best therapeutic transfusion practice, and most studies describe plasma use in a prophylactic setting. Laboratory abnormalities of coagulation are considered by many clinicians to be a predictive risk factor for bleeding prior to invasive procedures or in other clinical situations where bleeding risk exists, and plasma for transfusion is presumed to improve the laboratory results and reduce this risk. However, most guideline indications for the prophylactic use of plasma for transfusion are not supported by evidence from good-quality randomized trials. Arguably, the strongest randomized controlled trial (RCT) evidence indicates that prophylactic plasma for transfusion is not effective across a range of different clinical settings, and this is supported by data from nonrandomized studies in patients with mild to moderate abnormalities in coagulation tests. There is a need to undertake new trials evaluating the efficacy and adverse effects of plasma, both in bleeding and non-bleeding patients, to understand whether the presumed benefits outweigh the real risks. In addition, new hemostatic tests that better define the risk of bleeding and monitor the effectiveness of the use of FFP should be validated. Last, there is an opportunity to develop effective educational strategies aimed at addressing understanding and compliance with recommendations in guidelines.