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Am J Clin Pathol. 2013 Apr;139(4):450-6. doi: 10.1309/AJCPS6OW6DYNOGNH.

Activated partial thromboplastin time and anti-xa measurements in heparin monitoring: biochemical basis for discordance.

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Department of Pediatric Hematology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.


We examined the concordance of heparin levels measured by a chromogenic anti-Xa assay and the activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) during unfractionated heparin therapy (UFH) and the biochemical basis for differences between these measures. We also investigated the endogenous thrombin potential (ETP) as a possible measure of anticoagulation. Paired measures of anti-Xa and APTT were performed on 569 samples from 149 patients on UFH. The anti-Xa values and the APTT were concordant in only 54% of measurements. One hundred twelve samples from 59 patients on UFH were assayed for APTT, anti-Xa, factor II, factor VIII, and ETP. Supratherapeutic APTT values but therapeutic anti-Xa results had decreased factor II activity. Subtherapeutic APTT but therapeutic anti-Xa values had high factor VIII activity. ETP correlated with anticoagulation status and UFH dose. In conclusion, factor II and VIII activity contributes to discordance between APTT and anti-Xa results. ETP measurements may provide an additional assessment of anticoagulation status.

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