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Emerg Med J. 2007 June; 24(6): 435–436.
PMCID: PMC2658289

Does clopidogrel increase morbidity and mortality after minor head injury

Does clopidogrel increase morbidity and mortality after minor head injury

Report by Dr Richard Parris, Consultant in Emergency Medicine

Search checked by Dr Zia Hassan, Registrar in Emergency Medicine, Hope Hospital

Royal Bolton Hospital

A short cut review was carried out to establish whether patients who are on clopidogrel and suffer a minor head injury have an increase in morbidity and/or mortality. Four papers had some data relevant to the clinical question. The author, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes, results and study weaknesses of these papers are tabulated. The clinical bottom line is that there is insufficient evidence to state that clopidogrel worsens outcomes in patients with a minor head injury.

Three part question

In a patient with a [head injury], does concurrent [treatment with clopidogrel] [increase morbidity and mortality]?

Clinical scenario

A 78‐year‐old male presents to the emergency department in a coma 2 days after a minor head injury. You note he is taking clopidogrel for treatment of his ischaemic heart disease. CT scan shows a large sub‐dural haematoma. You wonder whether the clopidogrel has contributed to the development of this haematoma?

Search strategy

Medline: 1950–2007 April week 1 [(brain or exp Brain Injuries/) OR (craniocerebral or exp Craniocerebral Trauma/) OR (head injur$.mp.)] AND [(antithromb$.mp.exp Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors/or OR (platelet aggregation inhibitor$.mp.)] limit to (humans and english language). EMBASE: [cranio‐cerebral trauma OR head injury] AND [clopidogrel OR antithrombocytic agent] LIMIT to humans

Search outcome

Medline yielded 113 papers, EMBASE 58. Four were relevant (table 33).

Table thumbnail
Table 3


The clinical impression is that concomitant with the increase in the number of patients taking clopidogrel, there is a rise in the number of patients on clopidogrel presenting with significant intra‐cranial haemorrhage after minor head injury. Whether clopidogrel contributes to the development of the intra‐cranial haemorrhage is unclear and there is currently very little evidence addressing this subject. This is perhaps not surprising considering that clopidogrel is a relatively new drug and even with older established anticoagulant and anti‐thrombotic drugs such as warfarin and aspirin, there is continued debate about the quality and quantity of evidence delineating their exact role in the development of intra‐cranial haemorrhage following head injury.

Clinical bottom line

There is insufficient evidence to firmly state that clopidogrel worsens outcomes in patients with minor head injury.


  • Rozzelle C J, Wofford J L, Branch C L. Predictors of hospital mortality in older patients with subdural hematoma. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 1995;43(3):240-4. [PubMed]
  • Mina A A, Knipfer J F, Park D Y. et al. Intracranial complications of preinjury anticoagulation in trauma patients with head injury. J Trauma 2002;53(4):668-72. [PubMed]
  • Ohm C, Mina A, Howells G. et al. Effects of Antiplatelet Agents On Outcomes for Elderly Patients With Traumatic Intracranial Hemorrhage. J Trauma 2005;58:518-22 [PubMed]
  • Jones K, Sharp C, Mangram A. et al. The Effects of Preinjury Clopidogrel Use On Older Trauma Patients with Head Injuries. Am J Surg 2006;192:743-5. [PubMed]

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