Article, Emergency Medicine

Successful hemostasis and reversal of highly elevated PT/INR after dabigatran etexilate use in a patient with acute kidney injury

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American Journal of Emergency Medicine

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Successful hemostasis and reversal of highly elevated PT/INR after dabigatran etexilate use in a patient with acute kidney injury?


Dabigatran etexilate is a novel oral anticoagulant indicated for anticoagulation in the management of atrial fibrillation and ve- nous thromboembolism. Before its approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, warfarin, a vitamin K antagonist, was one of few oral anticoagulant options. The burden of therapeutic drug monitoring, dietary restrictions, and various Drug interactions as- sociated with warfarin have countered its extensive history of ef- ficacy. Although dabigatran etexilate may alleviate some concerns encountered with Warfarin therapy, there remains a pau- city of evidence surrounding emergent Reversal strategies in se- vere hemorrhage. We report here a 71-year-old man who presented to the emergency department with gastrointestinal hemorrhage precipitated by acute kidney injury while on dabigatran etexilate, with laboratory derangements highly un- characteristic of dabigatran therapy (international normalized ratio, N 10, and activated partial thromboplastin time, 93 seconds). After admission to the intensive care unit and 7 U of fresh frozen plasma, the patient remained hemodynamically unstable due to blood loss. Other observations were made that are poorly characterized in medical litera- ture related to dabigatran: refractory hemorrhagic shock after 7 U of fresh frozen plasma, rapid correction of Coagulation parameters (interna- tional normalized ratio, 1.7, and activated partial thromboplastin time, 44 seconds) achieved 4 hours after 26 U/kg of 4-factor prothrombin complex concentrate (Kcentra; CSL Behring, King of Prussia, PA), and with subse- quent achievement of hemostasis. The patient was discharged to home 7 days later without sequelae.

A 71-year-old man presented to our emergency department (ED) with melena, fatigue, and generalized weakness persisting for 2 days. Stools were bright red in color and not associated with painful bowel movements or rectal trauma. The patient’s medical history was signifi- cant for hypertension, coronary artery disease without stents, heart fail- ure with preserved ejection fraction (70%), atrial fibrillation, and an acute ischemic stroke with embolic occlusion of the middle cerebral ar- tery. His Home medications included amiodarone 200 mg daily, atenolol 100 mg daily, bumetanide 1 mg daily, dabigatran 150 mg twice daily, lisinopril 2.5 mg daily, lovastatin 40 mg at bedtime, and naproxen 500 mg twice daily.

The patient’s vital signs were initially stable, with a blood pressure of 123/97 mm Hg and a heart rate of 54 beats per minute. Laboratory pa-

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rameters included an International normalized ratio of greater than 10, Activated partial thromboplastin time of 93 seconds, and hemoglobin of 12 g/dL. Liver transaminases were mildly elevated (al- anine aminotransferase, 64 U/L, and aspartate aminotransferatse, 88 U/L); however, total bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase were within normal limits (0.4 mg/dL and 53 U/L, respectively). The patient’s serum creatinine was markedly elevated at 5.8 mg/dL (baseline, 1.1 mg/dL last documented 3 months prior), and he was hyperkalemic (serum potassium, 6.3 mEq/L). In the ED, the patient was given oral phytonadione 5 mg, Calcium gluconate 1 g by intravenous (IV) bolus, regular insulin 10 U IV bolus, dextrose 25 g IV bolus, and 2 U fresh frozen plasma IV infusion. One hour after initial presentation, the patient became hypotensive (77/39 mm Hg), and an IV bolus of 2-L 0.9% sodium chloride was admin- istered. The patient’s blood pressure improved to 119/46 mm Hg, and he

was transferred to the intensive care unit.

After intensive care unit admission, the patient received an addi- tional 5-U FFP. His prothrombin time /INR remained elevated (PT, N 85.1 seconds; INR, 9.0), and his hemoglobin progressively dropped from 12 to 7.6 g/dL. He again developed hypotension (70/ 33 mm Hg) requiring initiation of a norepinephrine infusion. Twelve hours after presenting to the ED, the patient was declared to be in hemorrhagic shock, and critical care services ordered 4-factor pro- thrombin complex concentrate (4F-PCC) and consulted nephrology to initiate hemodialysis in an effort to achieve hemostasis and en- hance elimination of dabigatran etexilate, respectively. Four-factor prothrombin complex concentrate at a dose of 5000 U Factor IX was ordered; however, because of product unavailability, a dose of 3500 U (26 U/kg actual body weight) was administered. Four hours after 4F-PCC administration, laboratory tests indicated rapid correction of coagulation parameters (INR, 1.7; PT, 17 seconds). The patient’s serum creatinine returned to baseline 36 hours after initially present- ing to the ED, after a single 4-hour run of hemodialysis and hydration with IV fluids. No additional dialysis, FFP, or 4F-PCC was administered.

He was discharged to home on day 8 of hospitalization. Four weeks later

at a clinic visit, his hemoglobin was 12.2 g/dL without signs of bleeding.

This is the first case report to our knowledge describing reversal of gastrointestinal hemorrhage and hypovolemic shock in a patient with acute kidney injury and a profoundly elevated INR complicat- ed by dabigatran etexilate. Four-factor prothrombin complex con- centrate was administered at a significantly lower dose than what has been used in previously published reports, with achievement of hemostasis [1,2].

Four-factor prothrombin complex concentrate, containing inactive forms of factors II, VII, IX, and X, may be an effective option for the rever- sal of dabigatran etexilate-associated bleeding [1-3]. Success depends on whether enhanced conversion of prothrombin to thrombin is rapid

0735-6757/(C) 2015

enough to overwhelm the competitive inhibition of dabigatran etexilate. Available data indicate that 4F-PCC may reduce bleeding times by increasing thrombin generation but does not significantly im- pact aPTT, ecarin clotting time, or thrombin time [1,4].

Despite evidence of shortened bleeding times with 4F-PCC adminis- tration, much of the surrounding data is discordant among animal studies, case reports, and ex vivo studies [3,5]. There is currently little consensus on the optimal formulation of prothrombin complex concentrate, optimal dose of 4F-PCC, effect of 4F-PCC on coagulation tests, or whether the im- pact that 4F-PCC has on these parameters is clinically relevant. In addition to these uncertainties, 4F-PCC is not benign; it carries with it the risk of provoking thromboembolism, a potentially Life-threatening complication particularly in the setting of acute bleeding.

Although reversal of gastrointestinal hemorrhage complicated by dabigatran etexilate using 4F-PCC has previously been reported, our case exhibits critical differences in both presentation and management [6].

Our patient presented with acute kidney injury and a profoundly ele- vated INR highly uncharacteristic of dabigatran etexilate therapy. Both bleeding, as determined by trending hemoglobin and mean arterial pres- sure, and coagulation parameters were not corrected by the administra- tion of 7-U FFP. The patient’s condition progressed to hemorrhagic shock, and 4F-PCC was ordered to correct supratherapeutic anticoagulation due to the accumulation of dabigatran etexilate. Within 4 hours of administer- ing 4F-PCC, both PT/INR and aPTT showed significant improvement with subsequent achievement of hemostasis.

Justin M. Jones, PharmD1

Sanford Medical Center, Fargo, ND E-mail address: [email protected]

Heather M. Ryan, PharmD1 Walgreens Pharmacy, Minneapolis, MN E-mail address: [email protected]

Mark Tieszen, MD1 David D. Leedahl, PharmD1 Sanford Medical Center, Fargo, ND

E-mail addressess: [email protected]

[email protected]

1Mailing address for all authors: 801 Broadway Rt 204 Fargo, ND 58122


  1. Marlu R, Hodaj E, Paris A, Albaladejo P, Cracowski JL, Pernod G. Effect of non-specific reversal agents on anticoagulant activity of dabigatran and rivaroxaban: a randomized crossover ex vivo study in healthy volunteers. Thromb Haemost 2012;108(7):217-47.
  2. Elise E, Pieter K, Meertien S, Meijers JC, Buller HR, Levi M. Reversal of rivaroxaban and dabigatran by prothrombin complex concentrate: a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study in healthy subjects. Circulation 2011;124(9):1573-9.
  3. Babilonia K, Trujillo T. The role of prothrombin complex concentrates in reversal of target specific anticoagulants. Thromb J 2014;12(8):8.
  4. Van Ryn J, Schurer J, Kink-Eiband M, Clemens A. Reversal of dabigatran-induced bleeding by coagulation factor concentrates in a rat-tail bleeding model and lack of effect on assays of coagulation. Anesthesiology 2014;120(6):1429-40.
  5. Lee FM, Chan AK, Lau KK, Chan HH. Reversal of new, factor-specific oral anticoagu- lants by rFVIIa, prothrombin complex concentrate and activated prothrombin com- plex concentrate: a review of animal and human studies. Thromb Res 2014; 113(11):705-13.
  6. McGovern TR, McNamee JJ, Malabanan C, Fouad MA, Patel N. Use of 4-factor pro- thrombin complex concentrate in the treatment of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage complicated by dabigatran. Int J Emerg Med 2015;8:10.

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