Everything You Need to Know About Blood Coagulation Testing Methods and its Types
Blood coagulation testing is one of the most important and common medical procedures done by medical practitioners. This testing methods helps the doctor to determine the ability of patient’s blood to clot and the time taken by it for clotting. Due to the crucial nature of the data provided by these tests, doctors recommend going for these tests as a part of regular checkups. Blood coagulation tests are mainly of three types which help in ascertaining the status of blood clotting ability of the patient.
Be it regular annual checkups or checkups done before a surgery, medical tests are important to ascertain the medical condition of the patient. Medical tests check for the status of important organs and fluids of the body and conduct an examination into the functioning of the vital systems of the body. As the medical sector has advanced over the years, several medical tests have been devised to check for the status of specific bodily organs or fluids. Take the example of blood coagulation testing; blood coagulation testing is done to measure the ability of patient’s blood to clot and the time taken by the blood to clot.
What is Hemostasis and How Important is Blood Coagulation Testing?
Any cut or bruise to the body causes bleeding. Hemostasis is a natural metabolic process that causes blood clotting, thereby preventing the loss of blood by excessive bleeding. Blood clotting, which essentially means the thickening of blood from liquid to solid state, thus, helps in faster healing of wounds. This becomes especially necessary in case of serious injuries or traumas wherein failure of the blood to clot may result in medical complications and, in some cases, may also cause death.
Blood coagulation testing is done prior to almost every major surgery or operation. This is because most of the surgeries are invasive in nature, meaning, they involve cutting or tearing some part of the body to perform certain medical procedures. In such cases, having medical data of the patient to get an idea with respect to the ability of the patient’s blood to clot and the time taken by it, becomes important. Also, many doctors recommend patients to go for blood coagulation testing on a regular basis. This is because the inability of blood to clot or abnormal blood clotting is a symptom of various chronic ailments including severe liver malfunctioning, cancer, sepsis, Covid-19, lack of vitamins, autoimmune disorders, etc. Thus, blood coagulation tests act as a reliable indicator of a patient’s overall health. In fact, the importance of these tests, as per the coagulation testing market figures, is expected to increase manifold in the post-pandemic years.
Types of Blood Coagulation Testing
Currently, there are three major types of blood coagulation tests that are done by doctors and medical practitioners to ascertain the blood clotting ability of the patient. A brief overview of these three tests is given below:
- Prothrombin Time Test
Prothrombin is a protein manufactured by the liver; the protein is a very good indicator of how quickly blood clotting takes place. The normal time taken for human blood to clot is around 25-30 seconds; in certain cases, wherein, the patient is taking blood thinners, blood may take somewhat longer to clot. However, abnormal delay in blood clotting may be a symptom of liver disease or hemophilia.
- Complete Blood Count
Blood constituents like platelets, red blood cells, etc., play an important role in blood clotting. Hence, their levels in the blood determine the blood’s ability to clot. A complete blood count test examines the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, etc. and extrapolates the numbers to give an estimate of how quickly the blood can clot. In these constituents, the platelet count is especially important as it is a better indicator of blood clotting than others.
- Fibrinogen Level Test
Fibrinogen, just like prothrombin, is a protein produced by the liver. Its presence in the blood is crucial as it causes the thickening of the blood. Fibrinogen test checks for levels of this protein in the blood, a shortage of which denotes a low ability of blood clotting.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, factor V assay test and thrombin time test are also common blood coagulation testing methods done to determine blood clotting capacity. These tests are done like any other medical tests and require the patient to follow certain guidelines like discontinuing certain medications or avoiding food intake prior to taking the tests. Also, it is advised for the patient that the medical practitioner be given an idea about the medications the patient is currently taking as certain medicines may alter the blood clotting ability.
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