Blood clotting analysers (TEG or ROTEM) versus any comparison to guide the use of blood products in adults or children with bleeding


The ability to make a sufficient blood clot is crucial in participants with bleeding. Clotting can be measured by various tests. TEG and ROTEM tests have the advantage of showing the total clotting capacity. These tests are performed at the bedside, and generally provide a rapid and useful result, guiding clinicians towards a more goal-directed transfusion management.


In the present systematic review we set out to assess the benefits and harms of a TEG- or ROTEM-guided use of blood products in comparison with standard tests, or doctors clinical judgement, in the treatment of bleeding patients. Evidence is current to January 2016.

Study characteristics

We identified 17 randomized controlled trials comparing TEG- or ROTEM-guided use of blood transfusion to guidance from the clinical judgement of doctors or standard laboratory tests, or both. The included trials were conducted mainly in adults in need of cardiac surgery, and involved 1493 participants.

Key results

In terms of efficacy, the use of TEG or ROTEM tests seem to reduce the need for all types of blood transfusions. However, we could not find fewer participants in need of further operations due to continuous bleeding, or at risk of massive bleeding with transfusion. Despite signs of benefit in regards to survival, our findings are hampered by the overall low quality of included studies. Assessment of harms indicated a reduced risk of kidney failure, while no other significant adverse -events were found. However, the reported adverse event rates were very low. All included trials except two were marred by high risk of bias.

Quality of evidence

Due to few events and many poorly designed trials, we consider our overall findings to be of low quality evidence in favour of TEG and ROTEM use in the management of bleeding patients.

Authors' conclusions: 

There is growing evidence that application of TEG- or ROTEM-guided transfusion strategies may reduce the need for blood products, and improve morbidity in patients with bleeding. However, these results are primarily based on trials of elective cardiac surgery involving cardiopulmonary bypass, and the level of evidence remains low. Further evaluation of TEG- or ROTEM-guided transfusion in acute settings and other patient categories in low risk of bias studies is needed.

Read the full abstract...

Severe bleeding and coagulopathy are serious clinical conditions that are associated with high mortality. Thromboelastography (TEG) and thromboelastometry (ROTEM) are increasingly used to guide transfusion strategy but their roles remain disputed. This review was first published in 2011 and updated in January 2016.


We assessed the benefits and harms of thromboelastography (TEG)-guided or thromboelastometry (ROTEM)-guided transfusion in adults and children with bleeding. We looked at various outcomes, such as overall mortality and bleeding events, conducted subgroup and sensitivity analyses, examined the role of bias, and applied trial sequential analyses (TSAs) to examine the amount of evidence gathered so far.

Search strategy: 

In this updated review we identified randomized controlled trials (RCTs) from the following electronic databases: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2016, Issue 1); MEDLINE; Embase; Science Citation Index Expanded; International Web of Science; CINAHL; LILACS; and the Chinese Biomedical Literature Database (up to 5 January 2016). We contacted trial authors, authors of previous reviews, and manufacturers in the field. The original search was run in October 2010.

Selection criteria: 

We included all RCTs, irrespective of blinding or language, that compared transfusion guided by TEG or ROTEM to transfusion guided by clinical judgement, guided by standard laboratory tests, or a combination. We also included interventional algorithms including both TEG or ROTEM in combination with standard laboratory tests or other devices. The primary analysis included trials on TEG or ROTEM versus any comparator.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two review authors independently abstracted data; we resolved any disagreements by discussion. We presented pooled estimates of the intervention effects on dichotomous outcomes as risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Due to skewed data, meta-analysis was not provided for continuous outcome data. Our primary outcome measure was all-cause mortality. We performed subgroup and sensitivity analyses to assess the effect based on the presence of coagulopathy of a TEG- or ROTEM-guided algorithm, and in adults and children on various clinical and physiological outcomes. We assessed the risk of bias through assessment of trial methodological components and the risk of random error through TSA.

Main results: 

We included eight new studies (617 participants) in this updated review. In total we included 17 studies (1493 participants). A total of 15 trials provided data for the meta-analyses. We judged only two trials as low risk of bias. The majority of studies included participants undergoing cardiac surgery.

We found six ongoing trials but were unable to retrieve any data from them. Compared with transfusion guided by any method, TEG or ROTEM seemed to reduce overall mortality (7.4% versus 3.9%; risk ratio (RR) 0.52, 95% CI 0.28 to 0.95; I2 = 0%, 8 studies, 717 participants, low quality of evidence) but only eight trials provided data on mortality, and two were zero event trials. Our analyses demonstrated a statistically significant effect of TEG or ROTEM compared to any comparison on the proportion of participants transfused with pooled red blood cells (PRBCs) (RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.79 to 0.94; I2 = 0%, 10 studies, 832 participants, low quality of evidence), fresh frozen plasma (FFP) (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.96; I2 = 86%, 8 studies, 761 participants, low quality of evidence), platelets (RR 0.73, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.88; I2 = 0%, 10 studies, 832 participants, low quality of evidence), and overall haemostatic transfusion with FFP or platelets (low quality of evidence). Meta-analyses also showed fewer participants with dialysis-dependent renal failure.

We found no difference in the proportion needing surgical reinterventions (RR 0.75, 95% CI 0.50 to 1.10; I2 = 0%, 9 studies, 887 participants, low quality of evidence) and excessive bleeding events or massive transfusion (RR 0.38, 95% CI 0.38 to 1.77; I2 = 34%, 2 studies, 280 participants, low quality of evidence). The planned subgroup analyses failed to show any significant differences.

We graded the quality of evidence as low based on the high risk of bias in the studies, large heterogeneity, low number of events, imprecision, and indirectness. TSA indicates that only 54% of required information size has been reached so far in regards to mortality, while there may be evidence of benefit for transfusion outcomes. Overall, evaluated outcomes were consistent with a benefit in favour of a TEG- or ROTEM-guided transfusion in bleeding patients.