Background: Thromboelastometry allows continuous registration of the blood viscoelastic changes upon activation by cephaline or tissue-factor plus calcium-chloride. The technique is used as a near-patient-testing device to guide transfusion in cardiac surgery or liver transplantation and less to investigate hemostasis in acquired or congenital coagulopathies.
Aims: (i) Review of the coagulopathy associated with cirrhosis and (ii) report on its investigation by thromboelastometry in comparison with conventional coagulation parameters.
Methods: We investigated citrated blood samples from 51 adult cirrhotics for the following thromboelastometry parameters: coagulation-time (CT), clot-formation-time (CFT), maximum-clot-firmness (MCF).
Results: Relatively few patients [14/51(27%)] were identified as abnormal by CT; in contrast, a greater proportion were identified by the CFT [41/51(80%)] or MCF [39/51(76%)]. CFT and MCF were correlated with the platelet-count, antithrombin and fibrinogen. Prothrombin time (PT) was correlated with CFT and MCF. None of the coagulation parameters were correlated with CT. The correlation of the Child-Pugh-score (taken as index of severity) versus MCF or PT was -0.457(p < 0.001) or 0.484(p < 0.001), suggesting MCF as a suitable prognostic index. CFT and MCF, but not CT obtained ROC curves that were useful to distinguish patients from healthy individuals.
Conclusions: Thromboelastometry, currently used to assist liver transplantation is also suitable for investigating stable cirrhosis. CFT and MCF are the most interesting parameters to be considered for future clinical studies needed to assess their value as measures of bleeding-risk and prognosis in this category of patients.