The frequent occurrence of abnormal fibrin polymerisation in patients with liver disease has recently been reported. To investigate this further, fibrin polymerisation was studied in 68 patients with cirrhosis or chronic active liver disease. Thirty-three of these patients demonstrated impairment of this phase of blood coagulation. When other tests of liver function were compared in patients demonstrating this abnormality and those in whom fibrin polymerisation was normal, it was found that the former group demonstrated significantly reduced albumin concentrations (p less than 0.0002), raised bilirubin and aspartate aminotransferase levels (p less than 0.0006 and less than 0.003 respectively), and greater prolongation of the one-stage prothrombin time (p less than 0.001) with more marked reduction in factor VII levels (p less than 0.002) compared with the latter patients. It is concluded that defective fibrin polymerisation occurring in patients with liver disease indicates the presence of severely impaired hepatocellular function. This might account for the grave prognosis reported in cirrhotic patients with abnormal fibrin polymerisation who also suffer bleeding from gastro-oesophageal varices.
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