The role of heparin-associated antiplatelet antibodies in the outcome of arterial reconstruction

J. G. Calaitges, T. K. Liem, D. Spadone, W. K. Nichols, D. Silver, J. Hoch, D. Eton, A. Shepard, G. Sicard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study was designed to determine the incidence rate of heparin-associated antiplatelet antibodies (HAAb) in patients who require major vascular reconstruction and to determine whether the HAAb were associated with perioperative thrombotic events. Methods: One hundred six patients who underwent elective arterial reconstruction for cerebrovascular occlusive disease (n = 48), aortoiliac occlusive disease (n = 13), aortoiliac aneurysm (n = 17), mesenteric arterial occlusive disease (n = 1), or infrainguinal arterial occlusive disease (n = 28) prospectively underwent evaluation from July 1, 1996, to June 30, 1997. Heparin-associated antibody tests (with a two-point platelet aggregation assay) and platelet counts (via Coulter counter) were performed before surgery and on or after the 4th day after vascular reconstruction. Arterial reconstruction thromboses were established by means of duplex ultrasound scanning or angiography. Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and venous thromboses were diagnosed with clinical criteria and duplex ultrasound scanning, respectively. A significant decrease in platelet count was defined as a platelet count of less than 100,000/mm3 or as a more than 30% drop in the platelet count. Results: Twenty-two patients (21%) had at least one positive HAAb assay: one assay was positive before surgery only (after angiography), six were positive both before and after surgery, and 15 were positive after surgery only. There were three perioperative deaths-one in the HAAb-positive group and two in the HAAb-negative group. Ten thrombotic events occurred in the perioperative period. Four thrombotic events (three operative site thromboses and one AMI) occurred in the HAAb-positive group (18.2%). All of these patients were undergoing heparin therapy. Of the six patients (with three operative site thromboses, two deep venous thromboses, and one AMI) in the HAAb-negative group (7%; P = .21), three were undergoing heparin therapy. No patient who was HAAb positive with a thrombotic event had thrombocytopenia or a significant decrease in platelet count. Conclusion: The frequent exposure to heparin by patients with peripheral vascular disease is associated with a high incidence rate (21%) of HAAb formation, which makes it one of the more common hypercoagulable conditions in these patients. The patients who were HAAb positive had a 2.6-fold increase in perioperative thrombotic events. Thrombocytopenia or decreasing platelet counts were not reliable clinical markers for identifying patients who were HAAb positive. It is suggested that all patients who have undergone heparin therapy and who have an unexplained perioperative thrombotic event develop should undergo testing for HAAb.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)779-786
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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