Accuracy of point-of-care coagulation testing during cardiopulmonary bypass in a patient post COVID-19 infection

Nimrat Grewal, David Yousef, Meindert Palmen, Robert Klautz, Jeroen Eikenboom, Jeroen Wink

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Introduction: Extracorporeal circulation (ECC) in cardiac surgery is performed under systemic heparinization. Adequacy of heparin therapy and anticoagulation during ECC is assessed by activated clotting time (ACT), although there are concerns regarding the reliability of this measure. The ACT can be affected by factors other than heparin anticoagulation. A novel factor that should be considered is the influence of a COVID-19 infection. More than half of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients develop coagulation abnormalities with dysregulated coagulation test results. Patients recently recovered from COVID-19 may still demonstrate some forms of coagulation disorder affecting the ACT. This case describes an inaccurate point-of-care ACT testing in a patient with previous COVID-19 infection undergoing cardiac surgery with ECC and the alternative coagulation testing performed. Case presentation: A 77-years-old Caucasian male presented with symptomatic severe mitral valve regurgitation for which he underwent surgery. Medical history revealed a COVID-19 infection one month before surgery. Pre-operative hematological lab results were normal and baseline ACT during surgery was 100 s. To achieve an adequate ACT of > 400 s, multiple doses of heparin were needed and after administration of a triple dose (75,000 IE heparin in total) this adequate ACT was achieved. In the meanwhile we measured anti-Xa level and APTT, which were at adequate levels when ACT was still < 400 s. Discussion: This case emphasizes the need of alternative methods for monitoring heparin therapy in case ACT does not respond adequately. Another point to highlight in this case is the poorly correlated relation between ACT and APTT and anti-Xa in light of the recent COVID-19 infection. Although studies have shown that COVID-19 infection can cause coagulopathy and altered hemostatic parameters, ACT has never been investigated in COVID-19 patient. Understanding the correlation between ACT, APTT and anti-Xa in COVID-19 patients is mandatory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
JournalJournal of cardiothoracic surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Cardiopulmonary bypass
  • Case report
  • Coagulation testing

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