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BACKGROUND: There are very few documented reports in literature of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) caused by immune-mediated heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). Further, there are very few reports of false negative serotonin release assays (SRAs) when testing for immune-mediated HIT.

CASE PRESENTATION: We present a case of a 60- year-old male with recent unfractionated heparin administration for venous thromboembolism prophylaxis, an elevated 4T score of 5 and acute CVST in which immune-mediated HIT was suspected. The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) screening assay was positive for PF4 antibodies and subsequent reflexive SRA testing was negative. However, given the clinical picture, a false-negative SRA was suspected (and eventually confirmed), prompting use of the alternative PF4-dependent p-selectin expression assay (PEA) which was confirmed to be positive. The patient was successfully managed with a bivalirudin infusion and eventually transitioned to apixaban.

CONCLUSION: It is uncommon for immune-mediated HIT with thrombosis to manifest as CVST. Similarly, false-negative SRA is uncommon in immune-mediated HIT. Take-away lessons from our case report include considering HIT in CVST patients with an elevated 4T score and considering the entire clinical picture and degree of suspicion for HIT when interpreting negative HIT testing results. The PEA, in conjunction with the 4Ts score, may be considered as an alternate diagnostic assay for HIT.