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Synonyms Rotational thromboelastography
Purposemethod for hemostasis testing in whole blood.

Thromboelastometry (TEM), previously named rotational thromboelastography (ROTEG) or rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM), is an established viscoelastic method for hemostasis testing in whole blood. [1] 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. [2] [3] Several reports confirm that application of TEM is cost effective by reducing the consumption of blood products. [4] [5] [6]


Blood (300 µl, anticoagulated with citrate) is placed into the disposable cuvette using an electronic pipette. A disposable pin is attached to a shaft which is connected with a thin spring (the equivalent to Hartert’s torsion wire in thrombelastography) and slowly oscillates back and forth. The signal of the pin suspended in the blood sample is transmitted via an optical detector system. The test is started by adding appropriate reagents. The instrument measures and graphically displays the changes in elasticity at all stages of the developing and resolving clot. The typical test temperature is 37 °C, but different temperatures can be selected, e.g. for patients with hypothermia. [7]

In contrast to thrombelastography with its pendulum-like principle, the design of the TEM viscoelastic detection system (figure 1) makes it quite robust and insensitive against mechanical shocks or vibrations.[ citation needed ]


The primary result of TEM is a reaction curve which shows the elasticity over time when the clot forms or dissolves. This curve is also called a TEMogram. Four key parameters describe the clotting curve for clinical routine. More than 10 additional calculated parameters, including derivative curves which are useful in specific research applications, e.g. in hemophilia [8] or thrombophilia [9] or for the effects of recombinant FVIIa [10] are available for research purposes.

Measurement parameters

CT (Clotting time): The CT is the latency time from adding the start reagent to blood until the clot starts to form. Prolongation of CT may be a result of coagulation deficiencies, primarily coagulation factors, or heparin (dependent on the test used). A potential contribution of heparin can be detected by comparing INTEM- with HEPTEM CT data (see “reagents” below). A shortening of CT indicates hypercoagulability.[ citation needed ]

CFT (Clot formation time) and alpha-angle: The alpha angle is the angle of tangent between 0 mm and the curve when the clot firmness is 20 mm, while CFT is the time from CT until a clot firmness of 20 mm point has been reached. These parameters denote the speed at which a solid clot forms and are primarily influenced by platelet function, but to a certain extent especially fibrinogen and coagulation factors contribute. A prolonged CFT (or a lower alpha-angle) is usually caused by poor platelet function, low platelet count, fibrin polymerization disorders or fibrinogen deficiency. Apparently also FXIII seems to be involved already in this phase. [11] Higher concentrations of heparin can also prolong CFT in the INTEM assay, but not in HEPTEM, EXTEM, FIBTEM or APTEM (see under “reagents”). A shortening of CFT (or a high alpha-angle) indicate hypercoagulability.[ citation needed ]

MCF (Maximum clot firmness): MCF is the greatest vertical amplitude of the trace. It reflects the absolute strength of the fibrin and platelet clot. A low MCF is indicative of decreased platelet number or function, decreased fibrinogen level or fibrin polymerization disorders, or low activity of factor XIII. A mechanically weak clot represents a severe bleeding risk and should initiate immediate therapeutic steps. High doses of heparin can lower MCF in the INTEM assay, but not in HEPTEM, EXTEM, FIBTEM or APTEM (see under “reagents”).

A5, A 10, A15 or A20 value These values describe the clot firmness (or amplitude) obtained after 10, 15 or 20 minutes (beginning from CFT) and provide a forecast on the expected MCF value at an earlier stage already. A recent investigation has validated this approach for the A15 value in more than 800 cases during liver transplantation. [12] The advantage of the A15-values is obvious: It allows for a more rapid decision about therapeutic interventions.

LI 30 (Lysis Index after 30 minutes) and ML (Maximum Lysis) The LI30 value is the percentage of remaining clot stability in relation to the MCF value at 30 min after CT. A similar value can also be calculated at other time points (45 or 60 min). The ML parameter describes the percentage of lost clot stability (relative to MCF, in %) viewed at any selected time point or when the test has been stopped. A low LI (X) value or a high ML value indicates hyperfibrinolysis. While in normal blood fibrinolysis activity is quite low, in clinical samples a more rapid loss of clot stability by hyperfibrinolysis may lead to bleeding complications which can be treated by the administration of antifibrinolytic drugs.[ citation needed ]

TEM assays

Initially, thrombelastography was simply performed with whole blood without adding reagents (except calcium when citrate anticoagulated blood was used). This provides a global overview about all phases of clot formation, stabilization and degradation. In the case of monocausal haemostasis disorders, the resulting reaction curves may be quite typical; however, under most clinical conditions this approach has severe limitations. In reality various effects overlap, including haemodilution or application of high doses of parenteral anticoagulants. High doses of heparin often prevent clot formation at all. Absence of a controlled activation step leads to inferior reproducibility and very long test times which are not acceptable for POC applications. The assays for ROTEM analysis help to get a rapid differentiation between various potential haemostasis defects or anticoagulant drug effects and allow for a rapid differential diagnosis. They form the base for selecting a therapeutic strategy. Several diagnostic algorithms have been proposed and were clinically validated. [12] [13] [14] Application of this strategy helps to minimize the exposure of patients to allogeneic blood products which have certain risks; and it saves costs. [4] [5] [6] Numerous research applications have used the technique as well.[ citation needed ]


INTEM This test mildly activates the contact phase of haemostasis. The result is influenced by coagulation factors, platelets, fibrinogen and heparin. Low molecular weight heparin is detected at higher concentrations. [15] [16] In the absence of heparin, INTEM is a screening test for the haemostasis system. It is used for therapeutic decisions regarding the administration of fresh frozen plasma, coagulation factors, fibrinogen or platelets.

HEPTEM This assay represents an INTEM assay performed in the presence of heparinase, a heparin (or LMWH) degrading enzyme. It allows the identification of haemostasis deficiencies even in the presence of heparin and represents an INTEM test without interference by heparin or heparin like anticoagulants. The difference between HEPTEM and INTEM CT-value comparison confirms the presence of heparin, e.g. accidental exposure. [17]

EXTEM test mildly activates haemostasis via the physiological activator tissue factor. The result is influenced by extrinsic coagulation factors, platelets and fibrinogen. EXTEM is a screening test for the (extrinsic) haemostasis system. This assay is not influenced by heparin (heparin inhibitor included in the EXTEM reagent). It is used for therapeutic decisions regarding the administration of fresh frozen plasma, coagulation factors, fibrinogen or platelets. EXTEM is also the base activator for FIBTEM and APTEM.

FIBTEM test is an EXTEM based assay for the fibrin part of the clot. FIBTEM eliminates the platelet contribution of clot formation by inhibiting the platelets irreversibly with cytochalasin D, a potent inhibitor of actin polymerization which disrupts actin microfilaments, an essential part of a cytoskeleton-mediated contractibility apparatus of the platelet. The use of cytochalasin is more favorable than using glycoprotein IIb/ IIIa inhibitors which block platelet incompletely, especially at higher platelet counts. [18] FIBTEM allows for the detection of fibrinogen deficiency or fibrin polymerization disorders, e.g. induced by certain plasma expanders, and may identify rapidly the need to substitute fibrinogen. FIBTEM results correlate well in many cases with the Clauss fibrinogen assay, but is additionally influenced by fibrin polymerization disorders which cannot reliably be detected with clotting tests. [18]

APTEM test is an EXTEM based assay in which fibrinolysis is inhibited by aprotinin in the reagent. A significant improvement of the clot in APTEM compared to EXTEM allows to detect fulminant hyperfibrinolysis. Therefore, the test helps in identifying the necessity of administrating antifibrinolytic drugs. Furthermore, APTEM enables the estimation if an antifibrinolytic therapy alone normalizes coagulation or if additional measures have to be taken (e.g. administration of fibrinogen or platelets).

Quality control

Quality control is an important requirement in laboratory and POC testing. An automatic internal electronic control procedure is implemented in the ROTEM whole blood analyzer. Furthermore, biological control materials at 2 different levels are available and should be used in order to document quality and validity of results.

Clinical application

TEM is successfully used in the near patient assessment of haemostasis. The method allows detection of complex haemostasis disorders (available in most coagulopathies) within a few minutes and thus enables rapid therapeutic intervention. Whole blood TEM is sensitive to haemostasis affecting agents such as plasma expanders or acidosis while the effects of these agents are hardly identified by plasma based laboratory tests. TEM-guided transfusion of blood products or factor concentrates in cardiac, hepatic and major orthopedic surgery is the main application of the method. Moreover, it is successfully used in the complex situation of (poly)trauma, or in decision making for of alternative therapy such as antifibrinolytic drug administration . The clinical benefits of TEM have resulted in major savings [4] [5] [6] and publications recommend that viscoelastic methods such as TEM should be used in surgical procedures where major blood loss followed by the need for transfusions can be expected. [19]

Limitations of TEM

Like any other haemostasis evaluating method, TEM (and thrombelastography) have limitations which need to be considered when interpreting the results. The typical assays are not responsive for the effect of von Willebrand factor or platelet antagonists such as aspirin or thienopyridines (e.g. clopidogrel), and only supratherapeutic doses of GPIIb/IIIa antagonists may influence results. The sensitivity for coagulation factor deficiencies, including those induced by oral anticoagulation, is less pronounced as compared to clotting assays. Therefore, TEM is not meant to replace laboratory assays such as prothrombin time (PT) or factor assays. However, due to the rapid availability of differential diagnostic information, TEM has become an established method in surgical procedures where blood losses can be expected.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thrombus</span> Blood clot

A thrombus, colloquially called a blood clot, is the final product of the blood coagulation step in hemostasis. There are two components to a thrombus: aggregated platelets and red blood cells that form a plug, and a mesh of cross-linked fibrin protein. The substance making up a thrombus is sometimes called cruor. A thrombus is a healthy response to injury intended to stop and prevent further bleeding, but can be harmful in thrombosis, when a clot obstructs blood flow through healthy blood vessels in the circulatory system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coagulation</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Disseminated intravascular coagulation</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fibrinogen</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thrombin</span> 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.

Fibrinolysis is a process that prevents blood clots from growing and becoming problematic. Primary fibrinolysis is a normal body process, while secondary fibrinolysis is the breakdown of clots due to a medicine, a medical disorder, or some other cause.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prothrombin time</span> 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.

D-dimer is a fibrin degradation product, a small protein fragment present in the blood after a blood clot is degraded by fibrinolysis. It is so named because it contains two D fragments of the fibrin protein joined by a cross-link, hence forming a protein dimer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Partial thromboplastin time</span> 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.

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thrombin time</span>

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. 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 to fibrin, an insoluble protein.

Purpura fulminans is an acute, often fatal, thrombotic disorder which manifests as blood spots, bruising and discolouration of the skin resulting from coagulation in small blood vessels within the skin and rapidly leads to skin necrosis and disseminated intravascular coagulation.

Hypercoagulability in pregnancy is the propensity of pregnant women to develop thrombosis. Pregnancy itself is a factor of hypercoagulability, as a physiologically adaptive mechanism to prevent post partum bleeding. However, when combined with an additional underlying hypercoagulable states, the risk of thrombosis or embolism may become substantial.

The dysfibrinogenemias consist of three types of fibrinogen disorders in which a critical blood clotting factor, fibrinogen, circulates at normal levels but is dysfunctional. Congenital dysfibrinogenemia is an inherited disorder in which one of the parental genes produces an abnormal fibrinogen. This fibrinogen interferes with normal blood clotting and/or lysis of blood clots. The condition therefore may cause pathological bleeding and/or thrombosis. Acquired dysfibrinogenemia is a non-hereditary disorder in which fibrinogen is dysfunctional due to the presence of liver disease, autoimmune disease, a plasma cell dyscrasias, or certain cancers. It is associated primarily with pathological bleeding. Hereditary fibrinogen Aα-Chain amyloidosis is a sub-category of congenital dysfibrinogenemia in which the dysfunctional fibrinogen does not cause bleeding or thrombosis but rather gradually accumulates in, and disrupts the function of, the kidney.

The fibrinolysis system is responsible for removing blood clots. Hyperfibrinolysis describes a situation with markedly enhanced fibrinolytic activity, resulting in increased, sometimes catastrophic bleeding. Hyperfibrinolysis can be caused by acquired or congenital reasons. Among the congenital conditions for hyperfibrinolysis, deficiency of alpha-2-antiplasmin or plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) are very rare. The affected individuals show a hemophilia-like bleeding phenotype. Acquired hyperfibrinolysis is found in liver disease, in patients with severe trauma, during major surgical procedures, and other conditions. A special situation with temporarily enhanced fibrinolysis is thrombolytic therapy with drugs which activate plasminogen, e.g. for use in acute ischemic events or in patients with stroke. In patients with severe trauma, hyperfibrinolysis is associated with poor outcome. Moreover, hyperfibrinolysis may be associated with blood brain barrier impairment, a plasmin-dependent effect due to an increased generation of bradykinin.

Thrombodynamics test is a method for blood coagulation monitoring and anticoagulant control. This test is based on imitation of coagulation processes occurring in vivo, is sensitive both to pro- and anticoagulant changes in the hemostatic balance. Highly sensitive to thrombosis.

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Factor I deficiency</span> Medical condition

Factor I deficiency, also known as fibrinogen deficiency, is a rare inherited bleeding disorder related to fibrinogen function in the blood coagulation cascade. It is typically subclassified into four distinct fibrinogen disorders: afibrinogenemia, hypofibrinogenemia, dysfibrinogenemia, and hypodysfibrinogenemia.

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.

The overall hemostatic potential (OHP) test is a global coagulation assay which can be used to measure coagulation. The OHP assay measures total fibrin generation in the presence of thrombin or tissue factor and tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA). It generates a fibrin time curve through the use of optical density measurement. This curve represents the balance between fibrin formation induced by thrombin or tissue factor and fibrinolysis induced by t-PA. The assay provides three parameters: overall coagulation potential (OCP), overall hemostatic potential (OHP), and overall fibrinolytic potential (OFP). OHP is the main parameter, while OCP and OFP are supplementary parameters to assess coagulation and fibrinolysis. One further parameter, clot lysis time (CLT), can also be determined. The OHP assay measures the integrated effect of procoagulant, anticoagulant, and fibrinolytic factors.


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