Author(s): Augoustides JG
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Abstract Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is important because it is common, and it significantly increases mortality after cardiac surgery. Although thrombocytopenia after cardiac surgery is common, it predicts serious adverse outcome when it is severe. Despite the high prevalence of heparin/platelet factor 4 antibodies in cardiac surgical patients, they typically do not indicate a higher perioperative risk. Recent evidence suggests, however, that when these antibodies are in the immunoglobulin M class, there is an increased risk of nonthrombotic adverse outcomes after cardiac surgery. According to the guidelines from the American College of Chest Physicians, patients with HIT require parenteral anticoagulation with a direct thrombin inhibitor such as lepirudin, argatroban, or bivalirudin. The transition to oral anticoagulation must be undertaken cautiously and only after the platelet count has recovered. Patients with a remote history of HIT can have cardiac surgery safely with unfractionated heparin. Patients with clinically active HIT who require cardiac surgery before the resolution of the HIT preferably should be anticoagulated with bivalirudin, dosed according to body weight and the goal-activated coagulation time. Given that bivalirudin is an established alternative to heparin as a thrombin inhibitor for cardiac surgery, it is likely that future trials will investigate which anticoagulant confers better outcomes after cardiac surgery, as is the case in percutaneous coronary intervention. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth
and referenced in Journal of Blood Disorders & Transfusion