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Preliminary evaluation of hemostasis in neonatal foals using a viscoelastic coagulation and platelet function analyzer


  • This work was funded in part by internal departmental funds. The authors have no conflicts of interest, and the work has not been previously presented.

  • Dr. Wilkins current address: University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to:
Dr. Barbara L. Dallap Schaer, 382 West Street Rd., Kennett Square, Philadelphia, PA 19348, USA.


Objectives – To compare coagulation and platelet function parameters measured using a viscoelastic analyzer in 3 groups: foals presenting to a neonatal intensive care unit with presumed sepsis, normal foals, and adult horses.

Design – Preliminary prospective trial.

Setting – Veterinary teaching hospital.

Animals – Ten clinically healthy foals, 13 clinically healthy adult horses, and 17 foals sequentially admitted for suspected sepsis.

Intervention – A single citrated (3.8%) blood sample collected at admission was submitted for coagulation evaluation using a viscoelastic analyzer.

Measurements and Main Results – Time to initial clot formation (ACT), clot rate (CR), platelet function, and time to peak parameters were collected from the signature generated with the associated software. Peak clot strength was collected manually from signature tracings. Signalment, presenting complaint, blood culture results, clinical progression, and outcome were collected from the medical record. Kruskal-Wallis testing was used to determine differences in coagulation parameters between groups, as well as to identify any associations between coagulation variables, foal variables, and outcome. Normal foals were more likely to have increased platelet function (P=0.04) compared with normal adult horses. Prolonged ACT (P=0.004) and decreased CR (P=0.03) were associated with foals with positive blood culture. There was a trend toward prolonged ACT and increased likelihood of death (P=0.06).

Conclusions – Healthy foals differ in values measured by the viscoelastic coagulation and platelet function analyzer compared with healthy adult horses. ACT and CR abnormalities were more likely to be observed in foals with positive blood cultures. The viscoelastic coagulation and platelet function analyzer may be useful in identifying early hemostasic and platelet dysfunction in critically ill foals, particularly those that are septic.

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