Objectives: Almost a third of patients who undergo peripheral bypass procedures do not have suitable veins, making the use of prosthetic materials necessary. Prosthetic materials can cause platelet adhesion and activation of the coagulation cascade on the graft. One potential strategy to reduce this thrombogenicity is to covalently bind heparin to the endoluminal surface of grafts. This human in vivo study examined systemic effects of the endoluminal heparin and addressed whether graft implantation results in (1) a measurable reduction of systemic markers of hemostasis activation compared with control grafts and (2) antibody formation against heparin, potentially responsible for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT).
Methods: The study included 20 patients undergoing femoropopliteal bypass grafting, of whom 10 received a standard Gore-Tex Thin Walled Stretch Vascular Graft (W. L. Gore & Associates, Flagstaff, Ariz) and 10 received a heparin-bonded expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) graft (Gore-Tex Propaten Vascular Graft). Blood samples were drawn before and directly after the operation and at days 1, 3, 5, and week 6 after surgery. Established markers of in vivo activation of platelets and blood coagulation (prothrombin fragment 1+2, fibrinopeptide A, soluble glycoprotein V, thrombin-antithrombin complexes, and D-dimers) were measured using standard commercially available techniques. Antiplatelet factor 4/heparin antibody titers were measured using a commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and platelet counts were determined.
Results: No statistical differences were observed in any of the markers of in vivo activation of platelets and blood coagulation between patients receiving Propaten or control ePTFE. Moreover, no antibodies against heparin could be demonstrated up to 6 weeks after implantation.
Conclusions: No measurable effect of heparin immobilization on systemic markers of hemostasis was found using a heparin-bonded ePTFE graft in vivo. Also, no antibodies against heparin could be detected up to 6 weeks after implantation.