Positive Heparin/PF4 Antibodies and High Mortality Rate: a Retrospective Case-Series Analysis


Braz. J. Cardiovasc. Surg.




Abstract Introduction: Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is a potentially lethal complication of unfractionated or low-molecular weight heparin therapy. We aimed to determine the incidence and mortality rate of patients with positive heparin/platelet factor 4 (PF4) antibodies, which is a rapid detection test of HIT. Methods: Coronary artery bypass grafting and mitral and aortic valve surgeries were evaluated. Cardiopulmonary bypass was employed in all patients. The diagnosis of HIT was based on immunological assays. Postoperative complications, mortality rates, and the causes of death were specified in patients with positive heparin/PF4 antibodies. Results: Postoperative thrombocytopenia was detected in 257 patients. Twenty of these patients undergoing open heart surgery were included in the final analysis. Antibodies against heparin/PF4 complex were positive in 20 patients. The mean body mass index was 28.8±2.3 kg/m2, mean value of left ventricular ejection fraction was 48.3±6.7%, cardiopulmonary bypass time was 113.0±35.0 min, aortic cross-clamping time was 88.0±32.7 min, mean intensive care unit length of stay was 10.9±4.9 days, mean preoperative platelet count was 307.250±88528 platelets/microliter, and mean postoperative platelet count was 243.050±89.354 platelets/microliter. The mean duration of heparin exposure was 6.9±2.9 days. The mortality rate was 45% (nine patients) and 1.2% (three patients) in heparin/PF4 complex positive and negative patients, respectively. Conclusion: Although the incidence of HIT was low in patients undergoing open heart surgery, an increased rate of early mortality was observed in patients with positive heparin/PF4 antibodies.

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