The thromboelastography trace provides a graphical and numerical representation of the viscoelastic changes associated with fibrin polymerization. When used with whole blood, the shape of this trace is a composite of the effects of white and red cell content and composition, platelet number and function, fibrinogen concentration, as well as coagulation protein function and balance. The trace is also influenced by pharmacological agents such as anticoagulants, antiplatelet therapy, and coagulation factor supplementation. As such the main role of this technology has been as a point-of-care device to guide transfusion of blood components. Recently the technology has moved from the cardiac and hepatic surgical settings, where most of the early work was focused, into other areas of hemostatic monitoring. New applications for pharmaceutical monitoring and patient screening are being explored. This review gives a broad overview of the applications of the technology. In particular it considers the factors that most influence the characteristics of the trace, be they preanalytical, analytical, or clinical.
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