Antithrombin III concentrate to treat heparin resistance in patients undergoing cardiac surgery

John H. Lemmer, George J. Despotis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Objective: The purpose of this report is to describe the clinical use of antithrombin III concentrate in 53 patients who were found, in the operating room before cardiopulmonary bypass, to be heparin resistant. Method: Resistance to heparin was determined to be present when greater than 600 U/kg body weight of heparin failed to prolong the kaolin-activated clotting time to more than 600 seconds in 53 aprotinin-treated patients. Blood samples were obtained for subsequent antithrombin III activity determination. Patients were then administered 500 U of antithrombin III concentrate, and the activated clotting time was remeasured. If the activated clotting time remained less than 600 seconds, a second 500-U dose was given. Results: Of the 53 patients, 45 (85%) had subnormal measured antithrombin III activity, and the mean plasma antithrombin III activity level for the entire group was 67% (normal 80%-120%). Administration of antithrombin III concentrate (500 U in 45 patients and 1000 U in 8 patients) resulted in prolongation of the mean activated clotting time from 492 to 789 seconds without additional heparin. The mean heparin dose response increased from 36.5 to 69.3 s·U-1·mL-1 with antithrombin III treatment. Only one patient did not achieve the target activated clotting time, despite administration of greater than 600 U/kg heparin and 1000 U of antithrombin III concentrate, and was treated with fresh-frozen plasma. Conclusions: On the basis of the criterion used in this report, most of the patients defined as being heparin resistant had subnormal plasma antithrombin III activity. Treatment with antithrombin III concentrate resulted in potentiation of the heparin effect to meet predetermined activated clotting time thresholds and allow for cardiopulmonary bypass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-217
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


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