Coagulation Factors

Other names: Blood Clotting Factors; Factor Assays; Clotting Factors

Coagulation factors are proteins, which are used to form blood clots; decreased levels of anticoagulation factors may contribute to unexplained bleeding episodes. Tests are used to assess the function of the factors; if test results show a decreased level of protein or poor function of a protein, this can be used to diagnose the patient’s condition and find a suitable treatment. The coagulation system is called into practice when an injury or accident causes the body to bleed; a series of proteins are activated to form a blood clot (this is known as the coagulation cascade).

Why is the test used?

The coagulation factor test is used to measure the levels and function of the factors; variations in the level of factors can result in abnormal clotting, which can contribute to excessive bleeding, if clotting is not taking place, or the formation of thromboses, if too much clotting is occurring.

The test is usually ordered when a patient has an unexplained episode of bleeding or has excessive bruising; the test is also ordered if a patient has abnormal results from their PT (prothrombin time) or PTT (partial thromboplastin time) tests.

The test may also be ordered when a patient has family history of inherited factor deficiency or a condition which may cause them to bleed, such as liver disease.

How is the test done?

The test is performed by collecting and analysing a sample of blood, which is taken from a vein in the arm (usually on the inside of the elbow). A needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is collected in a syringe. Once the sample has been collected, it will be bottled, labelled and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

What do the test results show?

The doctor will take the patient’s medical history and general health into consideration when analysing the results of the test.

Normal factor activity usually indicates that clotting is normal, while low activity indicates a problem with the clotting process.

Some people may inherit a factor deficiency as a result of an inherited health condition (such as haemophilia), while others may experience a deficiency as a result of a chronic illness. Conditions such as liver disease, certain types of cancer, vitamin K deficiency and severe infections may cause factors to decrease.

Levels of factors may increase due to an acute illness or as a result of stress.

Specific Blood Tests

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