Therapeutic plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin in the treatment of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia: A systematic review

Chinonso Onuoha, Karen D. Barton, Edward C.C. Wong, Jay S. Raval, Marian A. Rollins-Raval, Tina S. Ipe, Joseph E. Kiss, Leonard I. Boral, Jill Adamksi, Nicole D. Zantek, Oluwatoyosi A. Onwuemene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Immunomodulatory strategies in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) include the use of intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) and therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE). The optimal application of these therapies is unknown and outcomes data are limited. We investigated treatment categories and laboratory and clinical outcomes of IVIG and/or TPE in HIT with a systematic literature review. Study Design and Methods: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, and Web of Science through December 2019 for studies combining controlled vocabulary and keywords related to thrombocytopenia, heparin, TPE, and IVIG. The primary outcome was treatment indication. Secondary outcomes were platelet recovery, HIT laboratory parameters, heparin re-exposure, and post-treatment course. Case-level data were analyzed by qualitative synthesis. Results: After 4241 references were screened, we identified 60 studies with four main categories of IVIG and/or TPE use as follows: (a) treatment of refractory HIT (n = 35; 31%); (b) initial therapy (n = 45; 40%); (c) cardiopulmonary bypass surgery (CPB; n = 30; 27%); and (d) other (n = 2; 2%). IVIG was most commonly used for the treatment of refractory HIT while TPE was primarily used to facilitate heparin exposure during CPB. Both IVIG and TPE were equally used as initial therapy. Heparin re-exposure occurred without thrombotic event in 29 TPE-treated patients and three IVIG-treated patients. Conclusion: In patients with HIT, both TPE and IVIG are used for initial therapy or treatment of refractory HIT. However, TPE is more commonly used in patients undergoing CPB. Prospective studies may help clarify which treatment is indicated in HIT population subsets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2714-2736
Number of pages23
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
O.A.O. received research funding from the Hemostasis and Thrombosis Research Society, supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Shire, PLC. N.D.Z. received research funding from Octapharma and has financial interests in Endo International PLC and Boston Scientific. T.S.I. received research funding from Terumo BCT and Cerus Corporation. E.C.C.W. is an employee/shareholder with Quest Diagnostics. C.O., K.D.B., J.S.R., M.A.R., J.E.K., L.I.B., and J.A. have no relevant conflicts of interest to disclose.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 AABB

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review


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