A diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia with combined clinical and laboratory methods in cardiothoracic surgical intensive care unit patients.
BACKGROUND: Diagnosing postoperative heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) in cardiothoracic surgical patients is complicated because of the profound thrombocytopenia that occurs with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). CPB predisposes patients to develop a frequent incidence of antibodies directed against platelet factor 4 (PF4)/heparin complexes and HIT. The sensitivity of readily available antibody immunoassays is high, but specificity is quite low. The use of both a clinical probability score and rapid laboratory immunoassay has been shown to increase specificity, which is of particular importance in the CPB setting. Prompt diagnosis is crucial because cessation of heparin and treatment with alternative anticoagulation can reduce the risk of thromboembolic events. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed records from cardiothoracic surgical patients whose serum was tested with both the serotonin release assay (SRA) and the PF4/heparin immunoassay from January 2007 through December 2010. We assigned a high, intermediate, or low clinical "4Ts" probability score that quantifies thrombocytopenia, timing of platelet decrease, and thrombotic complications in each patient. We then compared the clinical score and the PF4/heparin immunoassay against the "gold standard" diagnostic test, the SRA. RESULTS: The sensitivity and specificity for PF4/heparin optical density >0.40 were 100% and 26%, respectively. Sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of HIT with a combination of PF4/heparin optical density >0.40 and high/intermediate 4Ts score were 100% and 70%, respectively. The negative predictive value was 100% for low 4Ts score. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated that the use of the 4Ts clinical score combined with the PF4/heparin immunoassay for HIT diagnosis increases the sensitivity and specificity of HIT testing compared with the PF4/heparin immunoassay alone. Furthermore, with an intermediate 4Ts score and positive PF4/heparin antibody test, a confirmatory platelet activation assay such as the SRA is necessary. Physicians treating patients after cardiothoracic surgery should recognize the need for an antibody test and confirmation with a platelet activation assay with even moderate clinical probability of HIT.
Demma, LJ; Winkler, AM; Levy, JH
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