Evaluation of Heparin Anticoagulation Protocols in Post-Renal Transplant Recipients (EHAP-PoRT Study)

Joan Chung Yan Ng, Marianna Leung, David Landsberg
Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy 2016, 69 (2): 114-21

BACKGROUND: Disturbances in hemostasis are common among renal transplant recipients. Because of the risk of thromboembolism and graft loss after transplant, a prophylactic heparin protocol was implemented at St Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2011. Therapeutic heparin is sometimes prescribed perioperatively for patients with preexisting prothrombotic conditions. There is currently limited literature on the safety and efficacy of heparin use in the early postoperative period.

OBJECTIVES: The primary objectives were to document, for patients who underwent renal transplant, the incidence of major bleeding and of thrombosis in those receiving therapeutic heparin, prophylactic heparin, and no heparin anticoagulation in the early postoperative period and to compare these rates for the latter 2 groups. The secondary objectives included a comparison of the risk factors associated with major bleeding and thrombosis.

METHODS: Adult patients who received a renal transplant at St Paul's Hospital between January 2008 and July 2013 were included in this retrospective cohort study. Electronic health records and databases were used to divide patients into the 3 heparin-use cohorts, to identify cases of major bleeding and thrombosis, and to characterize patients and events. The Fisher exact test was used for the primary outcome analysis, and descriptive statistics were used for all other outcomes.

RESULTS: A total of 547 patients were included in the analysis. Major bleeding was observed in 6 (46%) of the 13 patients who received therapeutic heparin; no cases of thrombosis occurred in these patients. Major bleeding occurred in 8 (3.0%) of the 266 patients who received prophylactic heparin and 9 (3.4%) of the 268 who received no heparin (p > 0.99). Thrombosis occurred in 1 (0.4%) and 3 (1.1%) of these patients, respectively (p = 0.62). Major bleeding occurred more frequently among patients with a low-target heparin protocol, but 61% of values for partial thromboplastin time were above target. A larger proportion of deceased-donor transplant recipients who had major bleeding were taking antiplatelet agents, relative to living-donor transplant recipients.

CONCLUSION: Therapeutic use of heparin increased the risk of bleeding among renal transplant recipients, but there were no cases of thrombosis. Prophylactic use of heparin did not increase the risk of bleeding and prevented proportionately more cases of thrombosis relative to no anticoagulation; this result supports the continued use of prophylaxis.


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