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Br J Anaesth. 2013 Nov;111(5):776-7. doi: 10.1093/bja/aet160. Epub 2013 May 5.

Haemodialysis before emergency surgery in a patient treated with dabigatran.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Military Teaching Hospital Sainte Anne, Boulevard Sainte Anne, Toulon 83 000, France.


Novel oral anticoagulants (NOAs) which directly inhibit thrombin (dabigatran) or factor Xa (rivaroxaban and apixaban) have recently been developed. We report the first case of perioperative management of a patient treated with dabigatran requiring haemodialysis before emergency surgery. A 62-yr-old woman visited the emergency department for a left bi-malleolar ankle fracture; she had a past medical history of severe ischaemic cardiomyopathy, alcoholic cirrhosis Child B, and moderate chronic renal insufficiency. The patient was treated with dabigatran for a left ventricular aneurysm with thrombus. Cutaneous manifestation of a voluminous haematoma required emergency surgery. Blood tests revealed dabigatran anticoagulant activity of 123 ng ml(-1) (therapeutic values: 85-200 ng ml(-1)), activated partial thromboplastin time of 63 s, and a prothrombin ratio of 68%, indicating that dabigatran disturbed coagulation. We decided to perform emergency haemodialysis before surgery. After 2 h, the anticoagulant activity of dabigatran was 11 ng ml(-1), allowing surgery. Surgery proceeded without any problems and the postoperative period was unremarkable. This case highlights the difficulties for the anaesthesiologist regarding emergency perioperative management of patients treated with NOAs and confirms the efficacy of haemodialysis in cases of dabigatran treatment. NOAs should be prescribed with caution, especially for patients with renal or hepatic disease, at least as long as no antagonist is available. In cases of deferred operative urgency in haemodynamically stable patients treated with dabigatran, haemodialysis should be considered to reverse dabigatran's anticoagulant effects.


dabigatran; haemodialysis; surgery

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