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Disease burden, complication rates, and health-care costs of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia in the USA: a population-based study. Lancet Haematol 2018 May;5(5):e220-e231 PMID: 29703336

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BACKGROUND: Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia can be a life-threatening and limb-threatening complication of heparin therapy. Incidence and complication rates of this condition have been extrapolated from studies with modest sample sizes, and despite the availability of therapeutic interventions the outcomes of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia are not well understood. We aimed to estimate disease burden, complication rates, and costs of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia in the USA.

METHODS: In this population-based study we analysed data from 2009 to 2013 from the Nationwide (National) Inpatient Sample (NIS), a large, all-payer inpatient health-care database in the USA. To validate the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) code for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (289.84), we defined the sensitivity and specificity of this code using patient data from 2013 from a local hospital (Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital, Milwaukee, WI, USA). The primary outcomes assessed were the incidence of hospital discharges with codes for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia and of discharges for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia associated with cardiopulmonary bypass, haemodialysis, hip or knee arthroplasty, trauma or injury (or both), and gingival or periodontal disease (or both). We also assessed the incidence of thrombosis, bleeding, limb or digit amputation, mortality, length of hospital stay, and associated hospital charges.

FINDINGS: Between 2009 and 2013, 97 566 discharges from the NIS assigned the ICD-9-CM code for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, and 149 911 247 discharges coded for non-heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, were analysed. Overall, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia was identified in 97 566 (0·065%; SE 0·0012) of 150 008 813 discharges, corresponding to approximately one in 1500 hospital admissions. Patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass had the highest rates of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (7702 [0·63%; SE 0·03] of 1 230 362), followed by those undergoing haemodialysis (23 012 [0·47%; 0·01] of 4 908 100), those with gingival or periodontal disease, or both (106 [0·12%; 0·03] of 88 621), and those with trauma or injury, or both (541 [0·09%; 0·01] of 602 944); patients with hip (845 [0·04%; 0·004] of 1 943 353) and knee (676 [0·02%; 0·002] of 3 022 602) arthroplasty had the lowest rates of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Thrombosis (29 079 [29·8%; SE 0·4] of 97 566) and bleeding (6044 [6·2%; 0·2] of 97 566) were common complications in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, and 1446 (23·9%; 1·2) of 6044 patients with heparin-induced thrombocytopenia who had haemorrhage died. 742 (0·76%; SE 0·06) of 97 566 patients with heparin-induced thrombocytopenia discharges underwent amputations compared with 173 043 (0·12%; 0·001) of 149 911 247 with non-heparin-induced thrombocytopenia discharges (adjusted odds ratio 5·095 [95% CI 4·309-6·023]; p<0·0001). Overall, in-hospital mortality was 9842 (10·1%; SE 0·2) of 97 508 in discharge summaries coded for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia compared with 3 206 700 (2·1%; 0·01) of 149 811 891 in discharges for non-heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (adjusted odds ratio 4·075 [95% CI 3·846-4·317]; p<0·0001). The median length of stay among live discharges was 8·9 days (IQR 4·6-17·1) and total hospital charges were US$83 072 (IQR 37 240-188 419) for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia discharges compared with 2·6 days (1·4-4·8) and $21 360 (11 426-41 917) for non-heparin-induced thrombocytopenia discharges (p<0·0001 for both). 333 discharges from a local hospital were analysed to assess the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of the heparin-induced thrombocytopenia ICD-9-CM code; sensitivity was 90·9% (95% CI 57·1-99·5) and specificity was 94·4% (91·1-96·6).

INTERPRETATION: Complication rates for heparin-induced thrombocytope

Author List

Dhakal B, Kreuziger LB, Rein L, Kleman A, Fraser R, Aster RH, Hari P, Padmanabhan A


Richard H. Aster MD Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Binod Dhakal MD Assistant Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Raphael Fraser PhD Assistant Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Parameswaran Hari MD Chief, Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Anand Padmanabhan MD, PhD Associate Professor in the Pathology department at Medical College of Wisconsin


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MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Aged, 80 and over
Cohort Studies
Cost of Illness
Health Care Costs
Hospital Mortality
Middle Aged
Patient Discharge
Risk Assessment
Treatment Outcome
United States
Young Adult
jenkins-FCD Prod-297 dff1a717c492f00bf6291286365f1f4fe95208f1