Current Practice and Clinical Utility of Thrombophilia Testing in Hospitalized Patients with Acute Ischemic Stroke

Academic Article


  • Background and Purpose: Testing for thrombophilic disorders is often performed in patients after cryptogenic ischemic stroke in an attempt to identify a hematologic explanation for the event. However, the role of commonly tested thrombophilias in ischemic stroke is poorly defined. There is limited evidence to quantify how these disorders affect ischemic stroke risk and testing practices are highly variable. Methods: Retrospective evaluation of thrombophilia testing practices and clinical outcomes was performed in hospitalized patients with acute ischemic stroke (n = 1898) at a large academic hospital over a two-year period. Variables assessed included testing components, timing of testing, number of abnormal results, and frequency of change in clinical management prompted by abnormal results. A provider survey was also performed to assess perceptions of current testing practices and provider understanding of testing indications. Results: Thrombophilia testing was performed in 190 (10%) patients admitted for acute ischemic stroke. Of those tested, 137 (72.1%) had at least one abnormal result, but this decreased to 37.4% when elevated factor VIII activity was excluded. An abnormal result prompted initiation of anticoagulation in only 4 patients (2%). The provider survey indicated that all providers (100%) were selecting thrombophilia tests using a pre-existing order set and were interested in additional education on testing indications and interpretation. Comparison to similar studies at other institutions revealed significant variation in testing practices, and a small proportion of patients in which testing prompted a change in management (1-8%). Conclusions: Thrombophilia testing is frequently obtained in hospitalized patients with acute ischemic stroke, yet testing only changed management in 2% of patients. Efforts to improve provider education and the stewardship of testing are needed to ensure appropriate evaluation and treatment of patients with acute ischemic stroke.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • May JE; Martin KD; Taylor LJ; Gangaraju R; Lin C
  • Volume

  • 29
  • Issue

  • 11