Pearls and Pitfalls in the Measurement of Direct Oral Anticoagulants

Giuseppe Lippi, Emmanuel J Favaloro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Due to their widespread use, testing for direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) has become urgent in certain clinical situations. Screening based on widely available, rapid, and simple hemostasis assays such as prothrombin time, activated partial thromboplastin time, or even diluted Russel Viper venom time may provide sufficient evidence of "over-coagulation" and could be used "in small/peripheral/spoke laboratories" as an emergency strategy, but is not thought to be reliable for driving clinical decision making. Given their good correlation with plasma concentration, urine dipsticks may be considered a valuable alternative for emergency screening, although their performance is dependent on renal function, may vary depending on the time since the last urination, and there may be problems of interfacing with the laboratory/hospital information system. Separation methods based on liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry may be clinically questionable, since they measure the concentration rather than the actual inhibitory effect of DOACs, are relatively expensive, cumbersome and time consuming, and therefore seem unsuitable for most conditions requiring urgent clinical decision making. A proposed approach therefore involves establishing a network of routine clinical laboratories, designating a reference center where DOAC tests could be available 24/7, establishing a clear diagnostic care pathway for ordering the tests from the laboratory and standard operating procedures for performing them, the use of the diluted thrombin time for dabigatran and anti-FXa assays (drug-calibrated) for rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban, as well as providing expert advice throughout the testing process, from ordering to interpretation of results.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSeminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 08 Mar 2024


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