Antithrombin III supplementation reduces heparin requirement and platelet loss during hemodialysis of patients with fulminant hepatic failure

Peter G. Langley, Rick Keays, Robin D. Hughes, Alastair Forbes, Ullrich Delvos, Roger Williams

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Previous studies have shown that antithrombin III levels are low in fulminant hepatic failure, and heparin kinetics are abnormal, making control of heparinization difficult during hemodialysis of these patients who are at risk of bleeding. In this study, we have performed a controlled, randomized trial of antithrombin III supplementation on heparin activity, occurrence of bleeding and the platelet count and activation during hemodialysis in 24 patients with fulminant hepatic failure. The treated group of 12 patients was given 3,000 units of antithrombin III before hemodialysis. Antithrombin III supplementation was shown to normalize antithrombin III levels during hemodialysis (prelevels: 0.22 +/- 0.03 U/ml S.E.; at 1 hr 0.99 +/- 0.06 U/ml; p less than 0.001; control prelevels: 0.24 +/- 0.03 U/ml; at 1 hr 0.23 +/- 0.04 U/ml). Total heparin usage was significantly decreased by antithrombin III supplementation (median 5,200 U; range = 2,000 to 13,000) as compared with the control group (median 10,200 U; range = 5,000 to 16,500; p less than 0.005). Blood heparin level (antifactor Xa activity) after the initial bolus was significantly greater in the antithrombin III-supplemented subjects (0.40 +/- 0.07 U/ml compared with 0.22 +/- 0.05 U/ml in the control group; p less than 0.05). The significant reduction in platelet count observed in the control patients (18% +/- 6% at 1 hr; p less than 0.05) did not occur in antithrombin III patients (6% +/- 4% at 1 hr), which was reflected by a lower release of the platelet-specific protein beta-thromboglobulin. Two of 12 patients in both groups showed minor bleeding around vascular access sites during the first hemodialysis.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-256
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1991


  • Antithrombin III
  • Blood Platelets
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Hemorrhage
  • Heparin
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases
  • Platelet Count
  • Renal Dialysis

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