Thrombin generation and bleeding in cardiac surgery: a clinical narrative review

John Fitzgerald, Robert McMonnies, Aidan Sharkey, Peter L Gross, Keyvan Karkouti
Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia, Journal Canadien D'anesthésie 2020, 67 (6): 746-753
This narrative review discusses the role of thrombin generation in coagulation and bleeding in cardiac surgery, the laboratory methods for clinical detection of impaired thrombin generation, and the available hemostatic interventions that can be used to improve thrombin generation. Coagulopathy after cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is associated with excessive blood loss and adverse patient outcomes. Thrombin plays a crucial role in primary hemostasis, and impaired thrombin generation can be an important cause of post-CPB coagulopathy. Existing coagulation assays have significant limitations in assessing thrombin generation, but whole-blood assays designed to measure thrombin generation at the bed-side are under development. Until then, clinicians may need to institute therapy empirically for non-surgical bleeding in the setting of normal coagulation measures. Available therapies for impaired thrombin generation include administration of plasma, prothrombin complex concentrate, and bypassing agents (recombinant activated factor VII and factor eight inhibitor bypassing activity). In vitro experiments have explored the relative potency of these therapies, but clinical studies are lacking. The potential incorporation of thrombin generation assays into clinical practice and treatment algorithms for impaired thrombin generation must await further clinical development.

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