Is the “Death Triad” a Casualty of Modern Damage Control Resuscitation

Alison Smith, Vera Hendrix, Max Shapiro, Juan Duchesne, Sharven Taghavi, Rebecca Schroll, Danielle Tatum, Chrissy Guidry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Principles of damage control laparotomy (DCL) focus on early surgical control of hemorrhage and contamination in addition to damage control resuscitation (DCR) to combat the significant mortality associated with the “death triad” of hypothermia, acidosis, and coagulopathy. We hypothesized that DCL patients managed with DCR would have lower mortality from the death triad than historical studies. Methods: A 5-y retrospective chart review of all consecutive adult trauma patients presenting to a Level I trauma center who underwent DCL was conducted. Parameters associated with the death triad were evaluated on admission and 24 h after the presentation. Kaplan Meier survival plots were used to compare the components of the death triad. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed. Results: A total of 149 adult patients were identified. The overall incidence of death triad was 20.8% (n = 31/149). 24-h mortality for all patients was 5.4% (n = 8/149). Kaplan Meier plots showed that 24-h mortality was significantly increased if 3/3 components of the death triad were present (P < 0.05). At 24-h after admission, mortality occurred in 16.6% (n = 5/30) of patients with the death triad. Conclusions: This study confirms that the 24-h mortality of trauma patients increased with the addition of all three death triad components. The death triad predicted death in 16.6% of patients treated with DCL and DCR at 24 h. Results suggest that the death triad might not be as applicable in the modern era of DCL in combination with DCR. Other factors contributing to in-hospital mortality need to be further elucidated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-398
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Acidosis
  • Coagulopathy
  • Damage control laparotomy
  • Mortality
  • Resuscitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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