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Blood. 2010 Mar 4;115(9):1797-803. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-07-231506. Epub 2009 Nov 20.

The severity of trauma determines the immune response to PF4/heparin and the frequency of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.

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Institut für Immunologie und Transfusionsmedizin, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität, Greifswald.


Heparin can induce heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). The combined effect of type of surgery (major vs minor) and heparin on this prothrombotic immune reaction to platelet factor 4 (PF4)/heparin was analyzed. In a randomized, double-blind study, trauma patients receiving low-molecular-weight (LMWH) or unfractionated heparin (UFH) for thrombosis prophylaxis were assessed for PF4/heparin-antibody seroconversion, HIT, and thrombosis according to type of surgery. The risk for seroconversion was higher than major versus minor surgery odds ratio, 7.98 [95% confidence interval, 2.06-31.00], P = .003, controlled for potential confounders, as was the risk for HIT (2.2% [95% confidence interval, 0.3%-4.1%] vs 0.0%, P = .010). During LMWH compared with UFH thromboprophylaxis, HIT (1 of 298 vs 4 of 316; P = .370) and PF4/heparin seroconversion (1.7% vs 6.6%; P = .002) were less frequent, driven by differences in patients undergoing major surgery (incidence of HIT: LMWH 0.8% vs UFH 4.0%; P = .180; seroconversion rates: 4.0% vs 17.0%; P = .001). After minor surgery, no case of HIT occurred. The severity of trauma and the need for major surgery strongly influence the risk of an anti-PF4/heparin immune response, which is then increased by UFH. In major trauma certoparin may be safer than UFH because it induces HIT-antibody seroconversion, and the corresponding risk of HIT, less frequently.

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