A chromogenic assay for use as a screening test for the identification of antithrombin deficiency is described. The heparin concentration and the incubation time in the assay were optimised specifically to permit the detection of heparin binding defects of antithrombin. The sensitivity of antithrombin assays for the detection of this type of variant was significantly impaired when an incubation time of more than 30 seconds was used. Several commercially available assays recommend a longer incubation time than 30 seconds and therefore some patients with heparin binding defects of antithrombin may not be identified. The assay described here allows heparin binding variants of antithrombin to be identified and distinguished from other types of antithrombin deficiency in a simple two stage procedure.
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