Fondaparinux as a Treatment Option for Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia

Stella Papadopoulos, Pharm.D.; Jeremy D. Flynn, Pharm.D.; Daniel A. Lewis, Pharm.D.


Pharmacotherapy. 2007;27(6):921-926. 

In This Article


As soon as HIT is suspected, all possible sources of heparin should be removed regardless of dosage or route of administration.[1,11,12] Even the amount contained on a heparin-coated catheter may be sufficient to initiate a reaction.[1,5] The key to the management of HIT is the use of nonheparin agents to decrease thrombin generation and reduce the risk for thrombotic complications such as arterial and venous thrombosis.[2,3,6] Warfarin alone is not considered an appropriate alternative to heparin in the setting of acute HIT, as it reduces levels of protein C and does not inhibit thrombin generation. In fact, warfarin-induced venous gangrene and skin necrosis in patients who received warfarin as first-line treatment for acute HIT have been reported.[1–3,6]

The duration of therapy with nonheparin anticoagulants depends on whether or not a thrombus is present.[2,3] If therapy was started in the setting of HIT with no thrombus, the patient should be treated with a nonheparin anticoag-ulant at least until platelet counts have stabilized or returned to baseline.[2,3] The risk for developing a thrombus may persist for more than 1 month after the onset of HIT, necessitating extended anticoagulation. These patients can be transitioned to warfarin once their platelet counts have reached 150 × 103/mm3 or higher.[2,3] In contrast, if therapy was started in the setting of HITTS, a nonheparin anticoagulant should be continued until platelet counts have reached a minimum of 150 × 103/mm3. At that time, warfarin should be introduced at low doses. When starting warfarin in the setting of HIT or HITTS, warfarin should overlap with the nonheparin anticoagulant for at least 5 days and be continued until the patient's international normalized ratio (INR) has been therapeutic for at least 48 hours.[2,3] If the nonheparin anticoag-ulant is discontinued prematurely, the patient could be at risk for warfarin-induced venous gangrene or skin necrosis.[2,3]


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