Comparison of the ecarin chromogenic assay and diluted thrombin time for quantification of dabigatran concentrations
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Essentials Routine monitoring is unnecessary but measuring dabigatran levels is helpful in certain situations. We compared ecarin chromogenic assay (STA-ECA-II) and dilute thrombin time (dTT) in patient samples. Both tests provided accurate measurements over a wide range of dabigatran concentrations. Adoption of STA-ECA-II and dTT into routine clinical practice will improve patient care. SUMMARY: Background Although routine coagulation monitoring is unnecessary, measuring plasma dabigatran concentrations can be useful for detecting drug accumulation in renal failure or overdose, assessing the contribution of dabigatran to serious bleeding, planning the timing of urgent surgery or intervention, or determining the suitability for thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke. Dabigatran concentrations can be quantified using chromogenic or clot-based tests, such as the ecarin chromogenic assay (ECA) and the diluted thrombin time (dTT), respectively. Objective The purpose of this study was to compare the results of these assays with dabigatran concentrations measured by the reference standard of mass spectrometry in samples from 50 dabigatran-treated patients collected at peak and trough after at least 4 months of drug intake. Methods Drug levels measured with either the STA Ecarin Chromogenic Assay-II (STA-ECA-II) or dTT were linearly correlated with those determined by mass spectrometry over a wide range of concentrations. Results and Conclusions For detection of levels below 50 ng mL-1 both tests have specificities of at least 96%, suggesting that they accurately detect even low levels of drug. Therefore, regardless of whether a chromogenic or clot-based platform is preferred, the STA-ECA-II and dTT are useful tests for measuring dabigatran concentrations. Unfortunately, neither test is licensed by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Although approved in other jurisdictions, the dTT and STA-ECA-II are not widely or rapidly available in most hospitals. Therefore, cooperation between regulators and hospitals is urgently needed to render these tests readily available to inform patient care.
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