Thrombotic antiphospholipid syndrome: A practical guide to diagnosis and management

Thromb Res. 2021 Feb:198:213-221. doi: 10.1016/j.thromres.2020.10.010. Epub 2020 Oct 15.


Thrombotic antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is characterised by venous, arterial and/or small vessel thrombosis in the context of persistently positive antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL). The diagnosis and management of thrombotic APS continues to prove challenging for clinicians. We provide a practical guide to the diagnosis of APS including who to test for aPL and which tests to do. We also consider clinical practice points on the management of venous, arterial and small vessel thrombosis, in the context of first and recurrent thrombotic events. Non-criteria manifestations of APS are reviewed. An approach to recurrent thrombosis and anticoagulant-refractory APS is discussed, with options including increasing the anticoagulation intensity of vitamin K antagonists, switching to low-molecular-weight-heparin, the use of fondaparinux and/or the addition of antiplatelet treatment. Adjunctive options such as vitamin D, hydroxychloroquine and statins are also addressed.

Keywords: Anticoagulant-refractory; Clinical practice points; Direct oral anticoagulants; Recurrent thrombosis; Thrombotic antiphospholipid syndrome; Vitamin K antagonists.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome* / drug therapy
  • Blood Coagulation
  • Humans
  • Thrombosis* / diagnosis
  • Thrombosis* / drug therapy


  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid
  • Anticoagulants