Non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) have a favorable benefit-risk profile compared with vitamin K antagonists. However, the lack of specific reversal agents has made the management of some patients receiving long-term treatment with NOACs problematic in emergency situations such as major bleeding events or urgent procedures. Idarucizumab, a fully humanized Fab antibody fragment that binds specifically and with high affinity to dabigatran, was recently approved for use in adult patients treated with dabigatran when rapid reversal of its anticoagulant effect is required. Clinical experience with idarucizumab is currently limited. We report 11 real-life clinical cases in which idarucizumab was used after multidisciplinary consultation in a variety of emergency situations including severe postoperative bleeding, emergency high-bleeding-risk surgery (hip/spine surgery and neurosurgery), invasive diagnostic testing (lumbar puncture), intracranial bleeding (pre-pontine subarachnoid hemorrhage and lobar intracerebral hemorrhage) and thrombolysis with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator for acute ischemic stroke. This case series illustrates the role of idarucizumab in improving patient safety in rare emergency situations requiring rapid reversal of the anticoagulant effect of dabigatran, while highlighting the importance of information and education about the availability and appropriate use of this recently approved specific reversal agent.
J Thromb Thrombolysis. 2017 Apr;43(3):306-317.