Heparin clearance during continuous veno-venous haemofiltration.
Singer M., McNally T., Screaton G., Mackie I., Machin S., Cohen SL.
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether premature clotting of haemofiltration circuits could be related to heparin removal across the filter membrane into the ultrafiltrate. DESIGN: Randomised study using either unfractionated (n = 8) or low molecular weight (n = 7) heparin for anticoagulation of the haemofiltration circuit at 1000 and 600 U/h respectively. Samples were drawn at 1 and 2 h from arterial and venous limbs of the haemofilter circuit for measurement of plasma heparin (as anti-Factor Xa activity), antithrombin III and haematocrit. Ultrafiltrate samples were collected at the same time for measurement of anti-Xa activity. SETTING: Intensive care unit. PATIENTS: Patients in acute renal failure requiring haemofiltration. RESULTS: Both unfractionated and low molecular weight heparin plasma levels were within the range required for therapeutic anticoagulation in all but one patient at 2 h. Ultrafiltrate anti-Xa levels were insignificant. Antithrombin III levels in these critically ill patients were subnormal in 11 of the 15 studies. CONCLUSIONS: Despite their small sizes, neither unfractionated nor low molecular weight heparins cross the haemofilter membrane into the ultrafiltrate in any measurable quantity. Both heparins were present in plasma at a level suitable for therapeutic anticoagulation. Subnormal levels of antithrombin III may be an important factor in determining filter longevity.