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Vet Clin Pathol. 2007 Jun;36(2):148-54.

A comparison of platelet parameters in EDTA- and citrate-anticoagulated blood in dogs.

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Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.



Platelet aggregates are a common artifact in canine blood. Aggregates may affect the accuracy of platelet counts, with important consequences for patient care.


The purpose of this study was to determine if platelet counts in dogs were more accurate if blood was collected into citrate instead of EDTA as an anticoagulant.


Blood was collected from 50 dogs with neoplasia admitted to the oncology service at Cornell University. EDTA and citrate Vacutainer tubes were filled with blood in random order. Platelet counts and parameters (mean platelet volume [MPV], platelet distribution width [PDW], mean platelet component concentration [MPC], platelet component distribution width [PCDW], and automated platelet clump count [APCC]) were determined using an optical-based hematology analyzer (ADVIA 120). Blood smears from each anticoagulated sample were scored visually for platelet aggregates.


The median platelet count was significantly lower (median decrease, 27 x 10(9)/L) in citrate-anticoagulated blood compared with EDTA-anticoagulated blood. This was attributed to platelet activation and aggregation: significantly more aggregates were seen in smears of citrate- than of EDTA-anticoagulated blood. Aggregates were typically small and not detected by the analyzer. Also, the MPV and MPC (or density) were significantly higher (median increase, 3 fL) and lower (median decrease, 33 g/L) in citrate-anticoagulated samples, respectively.


Platelets aggregate, likely from activation, when blood from dogs with neoplasia is anticoagulated with citrate for hematology testing, resulting in lower platelet counts. Citrate also yields inaccurate results for MPV and MPC, likely because of inadequate sphering of platelets. Thus, we recommend that citrate not be used as an anticoagulant when accurate platelet counts are desired in dogs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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