Accuracy of Diagnosing Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia

Emil List Larsen, Henning Nilius, Jan-Dirk Studt, Dimitrios A Tsakiris, Andreas Greinacher, Adriana Mendez, Adrian Schmidt, Walter A Wuillemin, Bernhard Gerber, Prakash Vishnu, Lukas Graf, Johanna A Kremer Hovinga, Jens P Goetze, Tamam Bakchoul, Michael Nagler


IMPORTANCE: Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is a life-threatening condition that requires urgent diagnostic clarification. However, knowledge of the diagnostic utility of the recommended diagnostic tests is limited in clinical practice.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the current diagnostic practice for managing the suspicion of HIT.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This prospective diagnostic study was conducted from January 2018 to May 2021 among consecutive patients with suspected HIT from 11 study centers in Switzerland, Germany, and the United States. Detailed clinical data and laboratory information were recorded. Platelet factor 4/heparin antibodies were quantified using an automated chemiluminescent immunoassay (CLIA). A washed-platelet heparin-induced platelet activation (HIPA) test was used as a reference standard to define HIT.

EXPOSURES: Suspicion of HIT.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcome was the diagnostic accuracy of the 4Ts score, the CLIA, and the recommended algorithm serially combining both tests.

RESULTS: Of 1448 patients included between 2018 and 2021, 1318 were available for the current analysis (median [IQR] age, 67 [57-75] years; 849 [64.6%] male). HIPA was positive in 111 patients (prevalence, 8.4%). The most frequent setting was intensive care unit (487 [37.0%]) or cardiovascular surgery (434 [33.0%]). The 4Ts score was low risk in 625 patients (46.8%). By 2 × 2 table, the numbers of patients with false-negative results were 10 (9.0%; 4Ts score), 5 (4.5%; CLIA), and 15 (13.5%; recommended diagnostic algorithm). The numbers of patients with false-positive results were 592 (49.0%; 4Ts score), 73 (6.0%; CLIA), and 50 (4.1%; recommended diagnostic algorithm), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this diagnostic study of patients suspected of having HIT, when the recommended diagnostic algorithm was used in clinical practice, antibody testing was required in half the patients. A substantial number of patients were, however, still misclassified, which could lead to delayed diagnosis or overtreatment. Development of improved diagnostic algorithms for HIT diagnosis should be pursued.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)e243786
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2024


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