Find a
Location:
Find a Location
or
Find a
Provider:
Find a Doctor
and/or

Article Manager

Health Information Encyclopedia - Medical Tests

Search Health Information   

Partial thromboplastin time (PTT)

Definition:

Partial thromboplastin time (PTT) is a blood test that looks at how long it takes for blood to clot. It can help tell if you have bleeding or clotting problems.



Alternative Names:

APTT; PTT; Activated partial thromboplastin time



How the test is performed:

The health care provider uses a needle to take blood from one of your veins. The blood collects into an air-tight container. You may be given a bandage to stop any bleeding. If you are taking a medicine called heparin, you will be watched for signs of bleeding.

The laboratory specialist will add chemicals to the blood sample and see how many seconds it takes for the blood to clot.



How to prepare for the test:

The health care provider may tell you to stop taking certain drugs before the test. Drugs that can affect the results of a PTT test include antihistamines, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), aspirin, and chlorpromazine (Thorazine).

Do not stop taking any medicine without first talking to your doctor.



How the test will feel:

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.



Why the test is performed:

Your doctor may order this test if you have problems with bleeding or blood clotting. When you bleed, the body launches a series of activities that help the blood clot. This is called the coagulation cascade. There are three pathways to this event. The PTT test looks at special proteins, called factors, found in two of these pathways.

The test may also be used to monitor patients who are taking heparin, a blood thinner.

A PTT test is usually done with other tests, such as the prothrombin test.



Normal Values:

The normal value will vary between laboratories. In general, clotting should occur between 25 - 35 seconds. If the person is taking blood thinners, clotting takes up to two and a half times longer.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.



What abnormal results mean:

An abnormal (too long) PTT result may be due to:



What the risks are:

This test is often done on people who may have bleeding problems. The risks of bleeding and hematoma in these patients are slightly greater than for people without bleeding problems.

In general, risks of any blood test may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
  • Multiple punctures to locate veins


References:

Schmaier AH. Laboratory evaluation of hemostatic and thrombotic disorders. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Shattil SJ, et al, eds. Hoffman Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008:chap 122.




Review Date: 2/13/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Text Only Options

Change the current font size: larger | default | smaller

Current color mode is Black on White, other available modes: Yellow on Black | Black on Cream

Current color mode is Yellow on Black, other available modes: Black on White | Black on Cream

Current color mode is Black on Cream, other available modes: Black on White | Yellow on Black

Open the original version of this page.