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Thrombophilia Testing - a Systematic Review by Lars Asmis, Peter Hellstern

Background: Thrombophilia testing is controversial, not least because of its high cost. Because comprehensive valid testing requires standardized blood collection close by the specialized laboratory, and interpretation of findings together with clinical data, often only part of the necessary laboratory analyses can be performed in remote central laboratories. Restrictive indications for testing, as have been recommended by previous reviews on the topic, have been based on incomplete analytics, studies with small case numbers, or short observation periods, and on an inappropriate, simple risk stratification for venous thromboembolism (VTE), further subdivided into provoked and unprovoked events.
Methods: The authors reviewed four electronic databases for all peer-reviewed and in-press articles about thrombophilia, VTE, obstetric complications, and arterial thrombosis. After confirmation for relevance to the topic, 201 articles were accepted for inclusion in this article. This review summarizes the studies relevant to the evaluation of thrombophilic conditions, and their combination with each other and with clinical risk factors, to stratify individual risk for thromboembolism and obstetric complications.
Results: Thrombophilia testing requires highly skilled personnel for laboratory analysis and interpretation. Clinical conditions that influence the results as well as special preanalytical, analytical, and postanalytical aspects must be considered if valid results are to be obtained. Tests involved include the natural anticoagulants antithrombin, protein C, and protein S; the procoagulants fibrinogen (dysfibrinogen), prothrombin (mutation G20210A), factor V (Leiden mutation), factor VIII/von Willebrand factor/blood group ABO, factor IX, and factor XI; the anti-phospholipid antibodies to detect an antiphospholipid syndrome and potentially additional uncertain thrombophilic conditions. The risks of thrombophilic conditions and clinical risk factors for VTE are cumulative or even supra-additive. Scores from thrombophilic conditions and other genetic and nongenetic risk factors permit estimation of risk for first and recurrent VTE. Therapeutic strategies can be derived from this risk stratification.
Conclusions: Thrombophilia testing is indicated when the results have potential to influence the type and duration of treatment. Indications include certain patients after VTE; or patients without previous VTE but with positive family history regarding VTE or thrombophilia before major surgery, pregnancy, combined oral contraceptives, or hormone replacement therapy. Whether or not thrombophilia is present should help determine anticoagulation, hormonal contraception, or hormone replacement.

DOI: 10.7754/Clin.Lab.2022.220817