Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia in patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and the role of a heparin-bonded circuit

Dirk Pabst, Jacqueline B. Boone, Behzad Soleimani, Christoph E. Brehm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: In patients supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and who develop heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, there is no clear evidence to support changing to a non-heparin-coated extracorporeal membrane oxygenation circuit. Our goal was to evaluate clinical outcomes of patients who were continued on heparin-bonded circuits despite diagnosed heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Methods: We completed a single-center retrospective study of all patients who underwent extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support from July 2008 to July 2017 and were tested heparin-induced thrombocytopenia positive while on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support. After diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, mean platelet count (k/µL) was measured on consecutive days for 14 days. Results: Out of 455 patients, 14 (3.1%) had a diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia by serotonin release assay and systemic heparin treatment was discontinued in every case. In total, 11 of the heparin-induced thrombocytopenia patients (78.6%) survived to discharge. The overall survival of all 455 extracorporeal membrane oxygenation patients was 54.1%. Platelets counts after discontinuation of systemic heparin in the heparin-induced thrombocytopenia patients increased from a mean of 59.8 k/µL at time of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia diagnosis to a mean of 280.2 k/µL at 14 days after discontinuation of heparin despite continuation of the heparin-bonded circuit. Platelet count increased in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support after discontinuation of systemic heparin even if maintained on the heparin-bonded circuit. Conclusion: Discontinuation of systemic heparin but continuation of heparin-coated extracorporeal membrane oxygenation circuits appeared to be an appropriate response for our extracorporeal membrane oxygenation–supported patients who developed heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Survival in this group was not significantly different to those patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation without heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Larger studies should evaluate the safety of heparin-bonded extracorporeal membrane oxygenation systems in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-589
Number of pages6
JournalPerfusion (United Kingdom)
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Safety Research
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


Dive into the research topics of 'Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia in patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and the role of a heparin-bonded circuit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this