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Pathology. 2011 Dec;43(7):682-92. doi: 10.1097/PAT.0b013e32834bf5f4.

Laboratory testing of anticoagulants: the present and the future.

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  • 1Department of Haematology, Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (ICPMR), Westmead Hospital, New South Wales, Australia.


This review provides an update on laboratory testing and monitoring for existing and emerging anticoagulants, starting with an overview of haemostasis and the routine coagulation tests currently employed within most haemostasis laboratories, including the prothrombin time (PT)/international normalised ratio (INR) and the activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT). Current anticoagulant therapy and laboratory monitoring is then discussed in terms of benefits and limitations, followed by a similar brief discussion of the new and emerging anticoagulants. The main focus, however, is laboratory testing related to vitamin K antagonists, heparin, lepirudin and the new agents dabigatran etexilate and rivaroxaban. Although the newer agents do not require laboratory monitoring, laboratory testing will occasionally be required, and pathology laboratories should become proactive in developing appropriate strategies. The tests most likely to fulfill this role are the ecarin clotting time (or chromogenic alternatives), and the chromogenic anti-Xa assay. Nevertheless, the dilute Russell viper venom time (dRVVT) assay may provide another alternative, and existing routine tests are also likely to be utilised for the foreseeable future, potentially also for laboratory testing of the new anticoagulants, albeit perhaps in modified form.

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