Abstract

To determine how more-sensitive prothrombin time (PT) and activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) reagents affected the number and distribution of abnormal test results and whether the increased sensitivity for deficiencies resulted in improved diagnosis of clinically significant coagulopathies, we retrospectively compared preoperative coagulation screening data for 140 children undergoing open heart surgery after the reagent change with a similar group of 135 before the change. The more sensitive reagents resulted in a higher rate of abnormal values, but no increase in the identification of clinically significant hemostatic abnormalities. Of 67 patients with abnormal aPTTs in the group screened with more sensitive reagents, 63 had no further workup. No patients in either group were diagnosed subsequently with a coagulopathy because of unexpected bleeding. An abnormal test result did not predict the need for perioperative blood products. We hypothesize that the high frequency of abnormal aPTTs led to physician “desensitization” about the merit of coagulation screening. Therefore, we question the usefulness of preoperative coagulation screening of the pediatric cardiac surgery patient, particularly since lasting changes in physician perception regarding the clinical significance of abnormal values may lead to missed diagnoses in other settings.