Thromboelastography: a reliable test?
Vig S., Chitolie A., Bevan DH., Halliday A., Dormandy J.
The thromboelastograph (TEG), a measure of global haemostasis, is routinely used during cardiac and hepatic surgery to optimize blood product selection and usage. It has recently been suggested that it may also be a useful tool to screen patients with hypercoagulable states. Limited published data on performance characteristics has led to speculation regarding its consistency and, therefore, validity of the results. This study was designed to assess the effect of stability of blood samples prior to testing, repeated sampling, intra- and inter-assay variability using the native, celite, tissue factor (TF) and Reopro-modified TEG. Analysis of native and celite samples after storage over 90 min showed a period of instability up to 30 min. Thereafter, all parameters between 30 and 90 min were stable [P = not significant (NS)]. When the same sample was repeatedly assayed, both native and celite TEG parameters showed a significant change towards hypercoagulability (P < 0.01), whereas the TF and Reopro-modified TEG showed no change. Intra- and inter-assay variability on samples tested after 30 min showed excellent reproducibility for all parameters (P = NS). The data suggest that the TEG is a useful tool in haemostasis but requires a formal standard operating procedure to be adopted that takes into account the initial period of sample instability.