Diagnostic value of immunoassays for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Michael Nagler*, Lucas M. Bachmann, Hugo ten Cate, Arina ten Cate - Hoek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Immunoassays are essential in the workup of patients with suspected heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. However, the diagnostic accuracy is uncertain with regard to different classes of assays, antibody specificities, thresholds, test variations, and manufacturers. We aimed to assess diagnostic accuracy measures of available immunoassays and to explore sources of heterogeneity. We performed comprehensive literature searches and applied strict inclusion criteria. Finally, 49 publications comprising 128 test evaluations in 15 199 patients were included in the analysis. Methodological quality according to the revised tool for quality assessment of diagnostic accuracy studies was moderate. Diagnostic accuracy measures were calculated with the unified model (comprising a bivariate random-effects model and a hierarchical summary receiver operating characteristics model). Important differences were observed between classes of immunoassays, type of antibody specificity, thresholds, application of confirmation step, and manufacturers. Combination of high sensitivity (>95%) and high specificity (>90%) was found in 5 tests only: polyspecific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with intermediate threshold (Genetic Testing Institute, Asserachrom), particle gel immunoassay, lateral flow immunoassay, polyspecific chemiluminescent immunoassay (CLIA) with a high threshold, and immunoglobulin G(IgG)-specific CLIA with low threshold. Borderline results (sensitivity, 99.6%; specificity, 89.9%) were observed for IgG-specific Genetic Testing Institute-ELISA with low threshold. Diagnostic accuracy appears to be inadequate in tests with high thresholds (ELISA; IgG-specific CLIA), combination of IgG specificity and intermediate thresholds (ELISA, CLIA), high-dose heparin confirmation step (ELISA), and particle immunofiltration assay. When making treatment decisions, clinicians should be a aware of diagnostic characteristics of the tests used and it is recommended they estimate posttest probabilities according to likelihood ratios as well as pretest probabilities using clinical scoring tools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-557
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2016

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