The Choice between Plasma-Based Common Coagulation Tests and Cell-Based Viscoelastic Tests in Monitoring Hemostatic Competence: Not an either-or Proposition

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Seminars in thrombosis and hemostasis


There has been a significant interest in the last decade in the use of viscoelastic tests (VETs) to determine the hemostatic competence of bleeding patients. Previously, common coagulation tests (CCTs) such as the prothrombin time (PT) and partial thromboplastin time (PTT) were used to assist in the guidance of blood component and hemostatic adjunctive therapy for these patients. However, the experience of decades of VET use in liver failure with transplantation, cardiac surgery, and trauma has now spread to obstetrical hemorrhage and congenital and acquired coagulopathies. Since CCTs measure only 5 to 10% of the lifespan of a clot, these assays have been found to be of limited use for acute surgical and medical conditions, whereby rapid results are required. However, there are medical indications for the PT/PTT that cannot be supplanted by VETs. Therefore, the choice of whether to use a CCT or a VET to guide blood component therapy or hemostatic adjunctive therapy may often require consideration of both methodologies. In this review, we provide examples of the relative indications for CCTs and VETs in monitoring hemostatic competence of bleeding patients.

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