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Postgrad Med. 2012 Nov;124(6):36-42. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2012.11.2611.

Evaluation of a pretest scoring system (4Ts) for the diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia in a university hospital setting.

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Division of Hematology/Oncology, Drexel University College of Medicine/Hahnemann University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA.


The initial diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is made on clinical grounds because the assays with the highest sensitivity (eg, heparin-platelet factor 4 antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA]) and specificity (eg, serotonin release assay) may not be readily available. The clinical utility of the pretest scoring system, the 4Ts, was developed and validated by Lo et al in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis in 2006. The pretest scoring system looks at the degree and timing of thrombocytopenia, thrombosis, and the possibility of other etiologies. Based on the 4T score, patients can be categorized as having a high, intermediate, or low probability of having HIT. We conducted a retrospective study of 100 consecutive patients who were tested for HIT during their hospitalization at Hahnemann University Hospital (Philadelphia, PA) in 2009. Of the 100 patients analyzed, 72, 23, and 5 patients had 4T pretest probability scores of low, intermediate, and high, respectively. A positive HIT ELISA (optical density > 1.0 unit) was detected in 0 of 72 patients (0%) in the low probability group, in 5 of 23 patients (22%) in the intermediate probability group, and in 2 of 5 patients (40%) in the high probability group. The average turnaround time for the HIT ELISA was 4 to 5 days. Fourteen (19%) of the 72 patients with a low pretest probability of HIT were treated with a direct thrombin inhibitor. Ten (71%) of the 14 patients in the low probability group treated with a direct thrombin inhibitor had a major complication of bleeding requiring blood transfusion support. In this retrospective study, a low 4T score showed 100% correlation with a negative HIT antibody assay. We recommend incorporating the 4T scoring system into institutional core measures when assessing a patient with suspected HIT, selecting only patients with intermediate to high probability for therapeutic intervention, which may translate into reduced morbidity and lower health care costs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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