ASAIO journal (American Society for Artificial Internal Organs : 1992)

A novel electrochemical heparin sensor.

PMID 8268527


Heparin is one of the most important clinical drugs, and is employed universally during surgical procedures and extra-corporeal therapies to prevent blood from clotting. Its clinical use, however, is often associated with serious hemorrhagic complications. Because of this life threatening bleeding risk, there is a need for a simple sensing device that can rapidly and directly monitor heparin levels during extra-corporeal therapies to provide a safeguard during these procedures. Current heparin assays are all based on the measurement of blood clotting time, and none of them are suitable for direct and rapid determination of heparin. We describe applying conventional ion selective electrode (ISE) polymer membrane technology and using a specifically formulated membrane doped with tridodecylmethylammonium chloride (TDMAC) as the heparin complexing agent, to devise the first electrochemical sensor for heparin measurement. The sensor is capable of detecting directly and rather selectively the free heparin concentrations in both physiologic saline and undiluted plasma samples. In addition, the clinical utility of the sensor has been demonstrated by monitoring the levels of heparin in undiluted whole blood specimens obtained from patients undergoing open heart operations. It is envisioned that the sensor could be configured as an in-line device within extracorporeal blood loops to monitor current extracorporeal therapy, or as a convenient single use disposable device for rapid bedside or laboratory measurements of heparin in small discrete samples of undiluted whole blood. Preliminary studies concerning the feasibility of designing a mass fabricated, solid state, disposable heparin sensor also have been conducted.