Isolated Prolongation of Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time: Not Just Bleeding Risk!

Medicina (Kaunas). 2023 Jun 17;59(6):1169. doi: 10.3390/medicina59061169.


Activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) is a fundamental screening test for coagulation disturbances. An increased aPTT ratio is quite common in clinical practice. How the detection of prolonged activated aPTT with a normal prothrombin time is interpreted is therefore very important. In daily practice, the detection of this abnormality often leads to delayed surgery and emotional stress for patients and their families and may be associated with increased costs due to re-testing and coagulation factor assessment. An isolated, prolonged aPTT is seen in (a) patients with congenital or acquired deficiencies of specific coagulation factors, (b) patients receiving treatment with anticoagulants, mainly heparin, and (c) individuals/patients with circulating anticoagulants. We summarize here what may cause an isolated prolonged aPTT and evaluate the preanalytical interferences. The identification of the cause of an isolated prolonged aPTT is of the utmost importance in ensuring the correct diagnostic workup and therapeutic choices.

Keywords: activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT); bleeding patient; circulating anticoagulants; coagulation factor defect; intrinsic pathway; mixing test.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders*
  • Blood Coagulation Factors
  • Blood Coagulation Tests
  • Blood Coagulation*
  • Hemorrhage
  • Humans
  • Partial Thromboplastin Time
  • Prothrombin Time


  • Blood Coagulation Factors
  • Anticoagulants

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.