Parenteral Omega-3 Lipid Emulsions and Risk of Bleeding

A recent study indicates that patient’s placed on omega-3 lipid emulsions (eg. Omegaven) may be at risk for bleeding due to platelet dysfunction (J Pediatr 2014; 164: 652-4).

While omega-3 lipid emulsions have received a lot of attention due to improvements in intestinal failure associated liver disease (IFALD) (see previous links to prior posts below), the amount of data supporting their usage and potential advantages compared with standard lipids at similar dosing remains limited.

This case report describes a 9-month old who developed life-threatening hemorrhage following a standard central line placement.  Due to difficulty stopping the bleeding, the patient’s omegaven was discontinued.  Standard workup for bleeding disorders were negative.  Subsequently, the authors investigated clot formation and platelet function in a neonatal animal model.

Key Result: Piglets treated with omegaven had a doubling of time to clot formation and marked platelet agonist inhibition.

The discussion notes that “there is an acknowledged risk of high dose O3FA lipids [omegaven] increasing bleeding time because of competitive inhibition of AA [arachidonic acid] production, hence decreased TxA2 [thromboxane A2].  In addition, platelet-derived growth factor-like protein and endothelial platelet activation factor are decreased.”

Take home points (from the authors):

  • “the case report and piglet studies together demonstrate that there is potential for a significant antiplatelet effect and inhibition of the coagulation cascade with O3FA therapy…”
  • “We would suggest discontinuation of Omegaven therapy 72 hours preoperatively in high-risk cases where bleeding may be difficult to directly control.”
  • “Institutionally, we have abandoned the sole use of Omegaven therapy.”

Related blog posts:

1 thought on “Parenteral Omega-3 Lipid Emulsions and Risk of Bleeding

  1. Pingback: Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Lipid Emulsions, and Hepatic Pathology | gutsandgrowth

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