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Keywords:

  • anticoagulants;
  • direct thrombin inhibitor;
  • factor Xa inhibitor;
  • monitoring

Summary.  In contrast to vitamin K antagonists, which reduce the functional levels of several coagulation factors, the new oral anticoagulants specifically target either thrombin or factor Xa. These new agents have such predictable pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics that routine coagulation monitoring is unnecessary. However, there are still some situations in which measurement of anticoagulant effect may be required. The coagulation assays that are used to monitor heparin derivatives or vitamin K antagonists may not always accurately reflect the anticoagulant activity of the new oral anticoagulants, and specialized assays may be needed. In this article, we: (i) identify situations in which assessment of anticoagulant effect may aid treatment decisions; (ii) describe the effects of the new oral anticoagulants on the various coagulation tests; (iii) review the specialized coagulation assays that have been developed to measure the anticoagulant effects of the new oral anticoagulants; and (iv) provide a clinical perspective on the role of coagulation testing in the clinical management of patients treated with the new oral anticoagulants.