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Value Of Thromboelastography In The Assessment Of Platelet Function

Virginia A. Bowbrick, Dimitri P. Mikhailidis, Gerard Stansby

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Thromboelastography (TEG) is a useful measure of coagulation. Modified TEG (that is with the addition of a GP Ilb/Illa receptor antagonist) has been used to assess the contribution of the fibrinogen-platelet interaction to TEG parameters (in particular the maximum amplitude, MA). Modified TEG was compared with other investigations of platelet function to assess its sensitivity in both normal subjects and in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition associated with activated platelets. Blood was collected from eight healthy subjects and 12 PAD patients. Platelet function was measured by TEG, flow cytometry (using PAC-1, P-selectin, GP Illa and GP lb murine antibodies) and platelet aggregometry (spontaneous and ADP-induced) in the presence and absence of tirofiban (a GP JIb/lla receptor antagonist). TEG showed a statistically significant reduction in MA with tirofiban at 0.4 mg/L and an increase in k (kinetic time; which indicates how fast clot strength is increasing once clotting starts) at 0.2 and 0.4 mg/L of tirofiban in both healthy subjects and PAD patients. Flow cytometry showed a significant decrease in the PAC-1 binding index (at 0.2 mg/b). This finding was compatible with the significant reductions found in spontaneous and ADP-induced platelet aggregation. However, aggregometry and flow cytometry were more sensitive indicators of platelet inhibition than the TEG parameters. TEG does not provide a comprehensive or sensitive reflection of impaired platelet function. If TEG is used as an index of severely impaired platelet function, we recommend that the k parameter should be used as well as MA. TEG should be supplemented by other methods of platelet function assessment wherever possible.