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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Prothrombin Time (PT/INR) Test
Prothrombin time (PT) is a blood test that measures how long it takes blood to clot. A prothrombin time test can be used to check for bleeding problems. PT is also used to check whether medicine to prevent blood clots is working.
A PT test may also be called an INR test. INR (international normalized ratio) stands for a way of standardizing the results of prothrombin time tests, no matter the testing method. It lets your doctor understand results in the same way even when they come from different labs and different test methods. In some labs, only the INR is reported and the PT is not reported.
Blood clotting factors are needed for blood to clot (coagulation). Prothrombin, or factor II, is one of the clotting factors made by the liver. Vitamin K is needed to make prothrombin and other clotting factors. Prothrombin time is an important test because it checks to see if five different blood clotting factors (factors I, II, V, VII, and X) are present. The prothrombin time is made longer by:
An abnormal prothrombin time is often caused by liver disease or injury or by treatment with blood thinners.
Prothrombin time (PT) is measured to:
In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.
A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.
In some cases, the health professional will take a sample of blood from your fingertip instead of your vein. For a finger stick blood test, the health professional will clean your hand, use a lancet to puncture the skin, and place a small tube on the puncture site to collect your blood.
Some people use a monitor at home to test a small blood sample.
The test will take a few minutes.
When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.
There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.
Each lab has a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should show the range that your lab uses for each test. The normal range is just a guide. Your doctor will also look at your results based on your age, health, and other factors. A value that isn't in the normal range may still be normal for you.
A method of standardizing prothrombin time results, called the international normalized ratio (INR) system, has been developed so the results among labs using different test methods can be understood in the same way. Using the INR system, treatment with warfarin (Coumadin) will be the same. In some labs, only the INR is reported and the PT is not reported.
The warfarin dose is changed so that the prothrombin time is longer than normal (by about 1.5 to 2.5 times the normal value or INR values 2 to 3). Prothrombin times are also kept at longer times for people with artificial heart valves, because these valves have a high chance of causing clots to form.
Current as of:
April 29, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: April 29, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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