Thrombin time

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Thrombin time
Coagulation in vivo.png
Blood coagulation pathways in vivo showing the central role played by thrombin
Other namesTCT
MeSH D013918

The thrombin time (TT), also known as the thrombin clotting time (TCT), is a blood test that measures the time it takes for a clot to form in the plasma of a blood sample containing anticoagulant, after an excess of thrombin has been added. [1] It is used to diagnose blood coagulation disorders and to assess the effectiveness of fibrinolytic therapy. This test is repeated with pooled plasma from normal patients. The difference in time between the test and the 'normal' indicates an abnormality in the conversion of fibrinogen (a soluble protein) to fibrin, an insoluble protein. [2]


The thrombin time compares the rate of clot formation to that of a sample of normal pooled plasma. Thrombin is added to the samples of plasma. If the time it takes for the plasma to clot is prolonged, a quantitative (fibrinogen deficiency) or qualitative (dysfunctional fibrinogen) defect is present. [3] In blood samples containing heparin, a substance derived from snake venom called batroxobin [4] (formerly reptilase) is used instead of thrombin. Batroxobin has a similar action to thrombin but unlike thrombin it is not inhibited by heparin. [1]

Normal values for thrombin time are 12 to 14 seconds. [5] If batroxobin is used, the time should be between 15 and 20 seconds. Thrombin time can be prolonged by heparin, fibrin degradation products, and fibrinogen deficiency or abnormality.

Test procedure

After separating the plasma from the whole blood by centrifugation, bovine thrombin is added to the sample of plasma. Clot formation is detected optically or mechanically by a coagulation instrument. The time between the addition of the thrombin and the clot formation is recorded as the thrombin clotting time.[ citation needed ]

Specimen requirements

Whole blood is taken with either citrate or oxalate additive (if using the vacutainer system, this is a light blue top tube). As with other coagulation assays, the tube must not be over- or under-filled in order to ensure the correct anticoagulant-to-blood ratio: one part anticoagulant per nine parts blood.[ citation needed ]

Reference ranges

The reference ranges of the thrombin clotting time is generally <22 seconds, [6] and from 14 to 16 seconds. [5] Laboratories usually calculate their own ranges, based on the method used and the results obtained from healthy individuals from the local population. Separate ranges are used for infants. [7]


Blood samples that are more than eight hours old can give inaccurate results when tested. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

Coagulation Process by which blood changes from liquid into a gel, forming blood clots

Coagulation, also known as clotting, is the process by which blood changes from a liquid to a gel, forming a blood clot. It potentially results in hemostasis, the cessation of blood loss from a damaged vessel, followed by repair. The mechanism of coagulation involves activation, adhesion and aggregation of platelets, as well as deposition and maturation of fibrin.

Disseminated intravascular coagulation Medical condition

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a condition in which blood clots form throughout the body, blocking small blood vessels. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, leg pain, problems speaking, or problems moving parts of the body. As clotting factors and platelets are used up, bleeding may occur. This may include blood in the urine, blood in the stool, or bleeding into the skin. Complications may include organ failure.

Fibrinogen Soluble protein complex in blood plasma and involved in clot formation

Fibrinogen is a glycoprotein complex, produced in the liver, that circulates in the blood of all vertebrates. During tissue and vascular injury, it is converted enzymatically by thrombin to fibrin and then to a fibrin-based blood clot. Fibrin clots function primarily to occlude blood vessels to stop bleeding. Fibrin also binds and reduces the activity of thrombin. This activity, sometimes referred to as antithrombin I, limits clotting. Fibrin also mediates blood platelet and endothelial cell spreading, tissue fibroblast proliferation, capillary tube formation, and angiogenesis and thereby promotes revascularization and wound healing.

Thrombin Enzyme involved in blood coagulation in humans

Thrombin is a serine protease, an enzyme that, in humans, is encoded by the F2 gene. Prothrombin is proteolytically cleaved to form thrombin in the clotting process. Thrombin in turn acts as a serine protease that converts soluble fibrinogen into insoluble strands of fibrin, as well as catalyzing many other coagulation-related reactions.

Prothrombin time Assay for evaluating the extrinsic pathway & common pathway of coagulation

The prothrombin time (PT) – along with its derived measures of prothrombin ratio (PR) and international normalized ratio (INR) – is an assay for evaluating the extrinsic pathway and common pathway of coagulation. This blood test is also called protime INR and PT/INR. They are used to determine the clotting tendency of blood, in such things as the measure of warfarin dosage, liver damage, and vitamin K status. PT measures the following coagulation factors: I (fibrinogen), II (prothrombin), V (proaccelerin), VII (proconvertin), and X.

Partial thromboplastin time Test for coagulation of blood

The partial thromboplastin time (PTT), also known as the activated partial thromboplastin time, is a blood test that characterizes coagulation of the blood. A historical name for this measure is the kaolin-cephalin clotting time (KCCT), reflecting kaolin and cephalin as materials historically used in the test. Apart from detecting abnormalities in blood clotting, partial thromboplastin time is also used to monitor the treatment effect of heparin, a widely prescribed drug that reduces blood's tendency to clot.

Mixing studies are tests performed on blood plasma of patients or test subjects to distinguish factor deficiencies from factor inhibitors, such as lupus anticoagulant, or specific factor inhibitors, such as antibodies directed against factor VIII. The basic purpose of these tests is to determine the cause of prolongation of Prothrombin Time (PT), Partial Thromboplastin Time, or sometimes of thrombin time (TT). Mixing studies take advantage of the fact that factor levels that are 50 percent of normal should give a normal Prothrombin time (PT) or Partial thromboplastin time (PTT) result. Factor deficient plasmas are used in mixing studies. Plasma with known factor deficiencies are commercially available but are very expensive, so they are often prepared in the laboratory and can then be used for mixing experiments.

Lupus anticoagulant is an immunoglobulin that binds to phospholipids and proteins associated with the cell membrane. Its name is a partial misnomer, as it is actually a prothrombotic antibody in vivo. Lupus anticoagulant in living systems causes an increase in clotting time. The name derives from their properties in vitro, as these antibodies increase coagulation times in laboratory tests such as the activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT). Investigators speculate that the antibodies interfere with phospholipids used to induce in vitro coagulation. In vivo, the antibodies are thought to interact with platelet membrane phospholipids, increasing adhesion and aggregation of platelets, which accounts for the in vivo prothrombotic characteristics.

Thrombophilia Abnormality of blood coagulation

Thrombophilia is an abnormality of blood coagulation that increases the risk of thrombosis. Such abnormalities can be identified in 50% of people who have an episode of thrombosis that was not provoked by other causes. A significant proportion of the population has a detectable thrombophilic abnormality, but most of these develop thrombosis only in the presence of an additional risk factor.


Hirudin is a naturally occurring peptide in the salivary glands of blood-sucking leeches that has a blood anticoagulant property. This is fundamental for the leeches’ habit of feeding on blood, since it keeps a host's blood flowing after the worm's initial puncture of the skin.

Dilute Russells viper venom time

Dilute Russell's viper venom time (dRVVT) is a laboratory test often used for detection of lupus anticoagulant (LA).

Thromboelastography (TEG) is a method of testing the efficiency of blood coagulation. It is a test mainly used in surgery and anesthesiology, although increasingly used in resuscitations in Emergency Departments, intensive care units, and labor and delivery suites. More common tests of blood coagulation include prothrombin time (PT) and partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) which measure coagulation factor function, but TEG also can assess platelet function, clot strength, and fibrinolysis which these other tests cannot.

Hypoprothrombinemia Medical condition

Hypoprothrombinemia is a rare blood disorder in which a deficiency in immunoreactive prothrombin, produced in the liver, results in an impaired blood clotting reaction, leading to an increased physiological risk for spontaneous bleeding. This condition can be observed in the gastrointestinal system, cranial vault, and superficial integumentary system, affecting both the male and female population. Prothrombin is a critical protein that is involved in the process of hemostasis, as well as illustrating procoagulant activities. This condition is characterized as an autosomal recessive inheritance congenital coagulation disorder affecting 1 per 2,000,000 of the population, worldwide, but is also attributed as acquired.

Thromboplastin (TPL) or thrombokinase is a mixture of both phospholipids and tissue factor found in plasma aiding blood coagulation through catalyzing the conversion of prothrombin to thrombin. It is a complex enzyme that is found in brain, lung, and other tissues and especially in blood platelets and that functions in the conversion of prothrombin to thrombin in the clotting of blood.

Clotting time is the time required for a sample of blood to coagulate in vitro under standard conditions.

A coagulation screen is a combination of screening laboratory tests, designed to provide rapid non-specific information, which allows an initial broad categorization of haemostatic problems.

Thromboelastometry (TEM), previously named rotational thromboelastography (ROTEG) or rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM), is an established viscoelastic method for hemostasis testing in whole blood. It is a modification of traditional thromboelastography (TEG). TEM investigates the interaction of coagulation factors, their inhibitors, anticoagulant drugs, blood cells, specifically platelets, during clotting and subsequent fibrinolysis. The rheological conditions mimic the sluggish flow of blood in veins. While traditional thromboelastography is a global assay for blood clotting disorders and drug effects, TEM is primarily used in combination with appropriate differential assays. They allow testing in the presence of therapeutic heparin concentrations and provide differential diagnostic information to support decisions in therapy. In numerous publications the validity of the method is shown. Application of TEM at the point of care (POC) or in emergency laboratories is getting more and more popular. TEM detects both hypo- and hyperfunctional stages of the clotting process and is probably the only reliable rapid test for the diagnosis of hyperfibrinolysis. In contrast to standard clotting tests, the fibrin stabilizing effect of factor XIII contributes to the result. The rapid availability of results helps to discriminate surgical bleeding from a true haemostasis disorder and improves the therapy with blood products, factor concentrates, anticoagulants and protamine, hemostyptic and antifibrinolytic drugs. Several reports confirm that application of TEM is cost effective by reducing the consumption of blood products.

Blood clotting tests are the tests used for diagnostics of the hemostasis system. Coagulometer is the medical laboratory analyzer used for testing of the hemostasis system. Modern coagulometers realize different methods of activation and observation of development of blood clots in blood or in blood plasma.

Kaolin clotting time (KCT) is a sensitive test to detect lupus anticoagulants. There is evidence that suggests it is the most sensitive test for detecting lupus anticoagulants. It can also detect factor VIII inhibitors but is sensitive to unfractionated heparin as well.

The haemostatic system involves the interaction of proteins in the blood, the blood vessel wall and the flow of blood to control bleeding and blood clotting. Developmental Haemostasis is a term that represents the maturation of the haemostatic system from birth to adulthood. There are differences in the concentration, structure and activity of many proteins involved in blood clotting. These changes play an important role in physiological development and are important in providing appropriate diagnosis and treatment of bleeding and clotting disorders. The age-specific differences in the blood clotting system may contribute to the fact that children are less prone to developing thrombosis compared to adults.


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  4. Batroxobin factsheet
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