Point-of-Care Coagulation Testing in Cardiac Surgery

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Bleeding complications after cardiac surgery are common and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Their etiology is multifactorial, and treatment decisions are time sensitive. Point-of-care (POC) testing has an advantage over standard laboratory tests for faster turn-around times, and timely decision on coagulation intervention(s). The most common POC coagulation testing is the activated clotting time (ACT), used to monitor heparin therapy while on cardiopulmonary bypass. Viscoelastic coagulation tests including thromboelastometry (ROTEM) and thromboelastography (TEG) have been recommended for the treatment of postoperative bleeding after cardiac surgery because the ROTEM/TEG-guided treatment algorithms reduced the use of blood products. Other POC tests are commercially available, but there is sparse evidence for their routine use in cardiac surgery. These devices include heparin management systems, POC prothrombin time and activated partial thromboplastin time, POC fibrinogen assay, and whole blood platelet function tests. There are multiple confounding elements and conditions associated with cardiac surgery, which can significantly alter test results. Anemia and thrombocytopenia are regularly associated with deviations in many POC devices. In summary, POC coagulation testing allows for rapid clinical decisions in hematological interventions, and, when used in conjunction with a proper transfusion algorithm, may reduce blood product usage, and potentially complications associated with blood transfusion.

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