Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia for the Perioperative and Critical Care Clinician

Curr Anesthesiol Rep. 2020;10(4):501-511. doi: 10.1007/s40140-020-00405-6. Epub 2020 Aug 29.


Purpose of review: This review will illustrate the importance of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia in the intraoperative and critical care settings.

Recent findings: Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) occurs more frequently in surgical patients compared with medical patients due to the inflammatory release of platelet factor 4 and perioperative heparin exposure. Recognition of this disease requires a high index of suspicion. Diagnostic tools and therapeutic strategies have been expanded and refined in recent years.

Summary: HIT is a condition where antibodies against the heparin/platelet factor 4 complex interact with platelet receptors to promote platelet activation, aggregation, and thrombus formation. Our review will focus on intraoperative and postoperative considerations related to HIT to help the clinician better manage this rare but often devastating hypercoagulable disease process.

Keywords: Heparin; Limb ischemia; Surgery; Thrombocytopenia; Thrombosis.

Publication types

  • Review