Protamine reversal of heparin affects platelet aggregation and activated clotting time after cardiopulmonary bypass

Toshiaki Mochizuki, Peter J. Olson, Fania Szlam, James G. Ramsay, Jerrold H. Levy

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144 Citations (Scopus)


Bleeding after cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is related to multiple factors. Excess protamine weakens clot structure and decreases platelet function; therefore, an increased activated clotting time (ACT) after protamine reversal of heparin may be misinterpreted as residual heparin anticoagulation. We evaluated the effects of protamine, recombinant platelet factor 4 (rPF4), and hexadimethrine on ACT in blood obtained after CPB. In addition, we examined the effect of protamine on in vitro platelet aggregation. Incremental doses of protamine, rPF4, and hexadimethrine were added to heparinized blood from CPB, and ACTs were performed. Incremental concentrations of protamine were added to heparinized platelet-rich plasma, and aggregometry was induced by adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and collagen. The mean heparin concentration at the end of CPB was 3.3 U/mL. Protamine to heparin ratios > 1.3:1 produced a significant prolongation of the ACT that was not seen with rPF4 and was observed only with 5:1 hexadimethrine to heparin ratios. ADP-induced platelet aggregation was reduced with protamine administration ≤1.3:1. Excessive protamine reversal of heparin prolongs ACT and alters ADP-induced platelet aggregation in a dose-dependent manner in vitro. Additional protamine administered to treat a prolonged ACT may further increase clotting time, reduce platelet aggregation, and potentially contribute to excess bleeding after CPB. Implications: We found that excess protamine prolonged the activated clotting time and altered platelet function after cardiopulmonary bypass, whereas heparin antagonists, such as recombinant platelet factor 4 and hexadimethrine, exhibited a wider therapeutic range without adversely affecting the activated clotting time. Approaches to avoid excess protamine or use of alternative heparin antagonists after cardiopulmonary bypass may be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-785
Number of pages5
JournalAnesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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