Utility of the PFA-100 as a screening test of platelet function: an audit of haemostasis laboratories in Australia and New Zealand

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The PFA-100 is a relatively new laboratory instrument, first described in 1995. There have since been numerous studies assessing its utility as a screening tool for platelet dysfunction and/or von Willebrand's disease (VWD). The PFA-100 displays variable sensitivity to different types of platelet disorders, as well as to antiplatelet medication (e.g. aspirin), with similar caveats for monitoring of primary haemostasis-promoting therapies in platelet dysfunction. There is therefore considerable uncertainty regarding its utility within this context, and we have accordingly performed an audit of usage among participants of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Quality Assurance Program. Of 105 laboratories surveyed, 40 responded that they performed platelet function testing, with 26 (65%) further indicating they utilized the PFA-100. We report a wide variety of laboratory usage among these users, including numbers of tests performed [annual median (range) = 270 (15–6000)], sources of requests (clinical sources and localities), testing criteria and follow-up action. Most tests were completed within 4 h of collection, as recommended by the manufacturer, and most tests were performed as a replacement, or as a preliminary screen of platelet function (i.e. classical aggregation). Most abnormal findings, however, were attributed to antiplatelet medication such as aspirin.

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