The Role for Optical Density in Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is a serious complication of heparin utilization. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is usually performed to assist in the diagnosis of HIT. ELISAs tend to be sensitive but lack specificity. We sought to use a new cutoff to define a positive HIT ELISA. METHODS: We conducted a prospective observational study of hospitalized patients undergoing ELISA testing. All patients who underwent ELISA testing were eligible for inclusion (n = 496). Irrespective of the results, all subjects had confirmatory testing with a serotonin release assay (SRA). We compared a threshold optical density (OD) > 1.00 to the current definition of a positive ELISA (OD > 0.40) as a screening test for a positive SRA. We used sensitivity, specificity, and area under the receiver operating curve to determine whether an OD > 1.00 would improve diagnostic accuracy for HIT. RESULTS: The SRA was positive in 10 patients (prevalence, 2.0%). Adjusting the definition of a positive HIT ELISA to > 1.00 maintained the sensitivity and negative predictive value at 100% in the cohort. The positive predictive value of the higher cutoff OD was more than triple the positive predictive value of an OD > 0.40 (41.7% vs 13.3%). No patient with a positive SRA had an OD measurement ≤ 1.00. CONCLUSIONS: Increasing the OD threshold enhances specificity without noticeably compromising sensitivity. Altering the definition of the HIT ELISA could prevent unnecessary testing and/or treatment with non-heparin-based anticoagulants in patients with possible HIT. TRIAL REGISTRY:; No.: NCT00946400; URL:


  • Chan, Chee M
  • Woods, Christian J
  • Warkentin, Ted
  • Sheppard, Jo-Ann I
  • Shorr, Andrew F

publication date

  • July 2015

published in