Dabigatran and kidney disease: a bad combination

Felix Knauf, C Michael Chaknos, Jeffrey S Berns, Mark A Perazella
Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology: CJASN 2013, 8 (9): 1591-7
Dabigatran is an oral direct thrombin inhibitor widely used to prevent and treat various thromboembolic complications. An advantage of this agent over other anticoagulants is that routine laboratory monitoring and related dose adjustments are considered unnecessary. A major disadvantage is the absence of a reliable means of reversing its anticoagulant effect. After U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, recently emerged data suggest a higher bleeding risk with dabigatran, especially in the elderly. Clinicians are thus faced with caring for patients with serious bleeding events without readily available tests to measure drug levels or the anticoagulant effects of dabigatran and without effective antidotes to rapidly reverse the anticoagulant effect. On the basis of dabigatran's pharmacokinetic profile, hemodialysis and continuous renal replacement therapy have been used to remove dabigatran with the hope, still unproven, that this would rapidly reverse the anticoagulant effect and reduce bleeding in patients with normal and those with reduced kidney function. However, the best clinical approach to the patient with serious bleeding is not known, and the risks of placing a hemodialysis catheter in an anticoagulated patient can be substantial. This article reviews this issue, addressing clinical indications, drug pharmacokinetics, clinical and laboratory monitoring tests, and dialytic and nondialytic approaches to reduce bleeding in dabigatran-treated patients.

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