Protimes, Clotting, and Fibrin–Oh My: A Reflection on Hemostasis
Given just two weeks to learn the entire coagulation cascade after a week-long break, we really had to jump back into classes with our "A game." We started off the first week learning the basics of what hemostasis entails and ended our second week learning how factor deficiencies, inhibitors, and hereditary disorders can affect a person’s coagulation cascade.
Hemostasis is a process that maintains the body’s bleeding and clotting in response to an injury by various mechanisms. During this course, we tested these mechanisms by performing both manual and automated protime (PT), activated partial prothrombin time (APTT), factor assays, and thrombin time (TT), and we observed a urea solubility test.
My favorite test that we performed was the manual PT. In this test, we took patient plasma and warmed it in a water bath for one minute. When the minute was up, we added the thromboplastin reagent while simultaneously starting a stop watch. In just a couple of seconds, we had to mix the sample and observe the tube for clotting by gently rocking it back and forth. As soon as a clot was seen, we immediately stopped the timer and recorded our results.
Having a quick reaction time was imperative for getting an accurate result, and I loved testing my reaction speed.
Even though the manual methods are not used in the clinical laboratory at Mayo Clinic, it was still amazing to see how quickly a clot could form in a tube. This course gave me a new appreciation for what our body goes through when we encounter an injury, no matter how big or small it may seem.