Quick & easy POC platelet function test delivers cost and patient benefits

31 August 2011

A novel diagnostic screening kit for the measurement of platelet function at the point of care (POC) is being used highly effectively at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre, located at the Blackpool Victoria Hospital, to deliver cost and patient benefits. Cardiothoracic surgeons and anaesthetists within this centre of excellence are successfully using Plateletworks from HORIBA Medical as a quick and easy test to assess whether there are adequate levels of functioning platelets to facilitate haemostasis. This one simple test, delivering both quantitative and qualitative platelet assessments in minutes, enables them to make informed decisions on the quantities of blood products and drugs needed to treat a patient’s condition.

Surgeons at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre started using Plateletworks platelet function kits in 2008 when it was realised that platelet count alone gave insufficient information to determine the contribution of those platelets to coagulation. Mr Nidal Bittar, Consultant Cardiothoracic surgeon explained his use of the kit. “We use Plateletworks to rapidly assess if a lack of functioning platelets is contributing to patient bleeding and hence enable an informed decision to be made on the need for transfusion. We are also able to assess if anti-platelet drugs are proving effective, especially pre-surgery, and if changes to the perfusion system can reduce platelet damage on cardio pulmonary bypass.”

By performing platelet function assessments on patients who are bleeding post operatively, this has enabled informed administration of appropriate blood products or drugs needed to treat the patient’s condition. Knowledge of platelet function is also enabling physicians at the centre to better assess patients on anti-platelet therapy (eg Clopidogrel) in need of urgent surgery, meaning that they can be operated on at the earliest safe opportunity. In addition, the Centre is at the forefront of cutting-edge techniques to ensure improved patient outcomes. For example, Plateletworks is enabling perfusionists to evaluate new techniques, such as optimisation of the perfusion circuit to reduce platelet damage and subsequent need for transfusion.

“By using Plateletworks to rapidly assess platelet function we have noted a reduction in post-operative bleeding take backs,” said Mr Bittar. “We have also been able to improve a patient’s journey, since we can address the cause of bleeding quickly without delay and we need only transfuse if absolutely necessary. Furthermore, we can protect low responders to anti-platelet therapy from risk of embolus during stent insertion procedures, for example.”

Plateletworks kits enable users to obtain the following information on platelets at the Point of Care (POC): total count, percentage aggregation or inhibition and functional count. The Plateletworks system ensures POC testing is kept as simple and quick as possible for the healthcare worker; whole blood samples are used, requiring no sample preparation. A number of Plateletworks kits are currently available to enable the measurement of platelet function in a variety of clinical settings. These are all processed on a HORIBA Medical haematology analyser for ease-of-use and delivery of results in less than five minutes.