LOS ANGELES (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – There might be a slight increase in delayed bleeding when patients have endobronchial ultrasound with transbronchial needle aspiration within 5 days of taking oral antiplatelets, according to a review of 404 patients at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

This study is unusual in that it looked at the 48 hour mark. Previous studies have tended to focus on immediate bleeding events that require the procedure to be stopped; only some of that research has found an increased bleeding risk with antiplatelet therapy.

In the study at Riverside Methodist, none of the 20 patients on dual antiplatelet therapy – clopidogrel (Plavix) plus aspirin – bled during the procedure, but one (5%) had a hemoglobin drop of more than 2 g within 48 hours and another was readmitted to the hospital within 48 hours for procedure-related hemoptysis. Overall, the delayed bleeding event rate for patients using the dual antiplatelet therapy was 10%. Additionally, one of the 13 patients (7.7%) on clopidogrel alone experienced a greater than 2 g drop in hemoglobin.

Among the 270 patients not exposed to antiplatelets, the overall bleeding event rate was 2.6%, and the event rate for delayed bleeding was 1.1%. Four patients (1.5%) bled during the procedure, two (0.7%) had hemoglobin drops greater than 2 g within 48 hours, and one (0.4%) was readmitted for hemoptysis.

There were no bleeding events in the 101 patients who only took aspirin.

“There was a trend toward delayed bleeding events in patients” on clopidogrel or dual antiplatelets. “It’s worth considering a thoughtful pause in decision making. Maybe with the bleeding events we’re seeing, it would be worthwhile, if possible, to defer” endobronchial ultrasound with transbronchial needle aspiration “until after the antiplatelet therapy,” said Kevin Swiatek, DO, a medicine resident at Riverside.

Patients were excluded from the study if they had histories of bleeding or clotting disorders; low platelet counts; or if they were on anticoagulation. Subjects on antiplatelets were about 10 years older, on average, than those who were not (about 68 versus 59 years old), and more likely to have had a heart attack or stroke, and to be hypertensive.

There was no industry funding for the work, and the investigators had no disclosures.


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