Bivalirudin anticoagulation for cardiopulmonary bypass during cardiac surgery

Noy Meshulami, Raghav Murthy, Maisy Meyer, Andrew D. Meyer, Shubhi Kaushik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Heparin is the primary anticoagulant for cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) support during cardiac surgery. While widely used, ∼2% of cardiac surgery patients develop heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) and 4–26% develop heparin resistance. Bivalirudin is an alternative anticoagulant mainly used for percutaneous coronary interventions. Given the challenges associated with heparin anticoagulation, we conducted a review to explore the use of bivalirudin for CPB surgery. Methods: PubMed and Embase scoping review included 2 randomized controlled trials, a retrospective comparison study, 3 pilot studies, and 30 case reports. To provide a contemporary series, we searched for articles published from 2010 to 2023. Our review included studies from both adult and pediatric populations. Results: While data is limited, bivalirudin seems to supply similar effectiveness and safety as heparin for CPB anticoagulation. Across the three comparative studies, the heparin cohorts had a 0–9% mortality rate and 0–27% rate of major bleeding/reoperation compared to a 0–3% mortality and 0–6% major bleeding/reoperation rate for the bivalirudin cohorts. Bivalirudin was successfully used as an anticoagulant in a wide range of CPB surgeries (e.g., heart transplants, ventricular assisted device placements, and valve repairs). Successful patient outcomes were reported with bivalirudin infusion of ∼2 mg/kg/hour, activated clotting time monitoring (target >400 s or 2.5× baseline), use of cardiotomy suctions, minimization of stagnant blood, and post-bypass modified ultrafiltration. Conclusion: Bivalirudin is a safe and effective anticoagulant for CPB, especially for patients with HIT or heparin resistance. Further comparative research is called for to optimize bivalirudin utilization for CPB during cardiac surgery.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPerfusion (United Kingdom)
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • anticoagulation
  • bivalirudin
  • cardiac surgery
  • cardiopulmonary bypass
  • heparin


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