Hobson, A.R., Agarwala, R A., Swallow, R.A., Dawkins, K.D. and Curzen, N.P.
Thrombelastography: current clinical applications and its potential role in interventional cardiology
Platelets, 17, (8), . (doi:10.1080/09537100600935259).
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Thrombelastography is a bedside blood test used to assess patients' haemostatic status. It has a well-established role in hepatobiliary and cardiac surgery and is also used in obstetrics and trauma medicine to assess coagulation and identify the causes of post-operative bleeding. It is not routinely used in the diagnosis or treatment of thrombosis although recently it has been shown to predict thrombotic events post-operatively and after percutaneous intervention (PCI). In cardiovascular medicine the importance of the platelet in the pathophysiology of vascular events is increasingly apparent. As a result antiplatelet therapy is a cornerstone of the treatment for coronary disease, particularly in the setting of acute coronary syndromes. The increasing utilization of stents, particularly drug-eluting devices, in PCI has also necessitated widespread use of antiplatelet agents to minimize the risk of stent thrombosis. A quick, accurate and reliable test to measure the effect of platelet inhibition by antiplatelet agents on clotting in an individual patient would be of profound clinical value. The results from such a test could provide prognostic information, allow treatment with antiplatelet agents to be tailored to the individual and identify resistance to one or more of these agents. Optimization and tailoring of anti-platelet therapy in patients with cardiovascular disease, particularly those undergoing PCI, using such a test may reduce morbidity and mortality from thrombotic and haemorrhagic complications. Current methods of assessing platelet activity measure platelet count and function in isolation. Optical aggregation is the most widely used method for assessing platelet function but it is relatively time consuming, measures platelet function in isolation rather than in the context of clot formation and is not a bedside test. By contrast the modified thrombelastograph platelet mapping kit marketed by Haemoscope can be used to assess the effects of antiplatelet agents on ex vivo blood clotting, thus giving a measurement more relevant to in vivo responses. This represents a potentially powerful tool to assess response of individual patients to antiplatelet therapy, particularly in the context of PCI.
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