Measurement of whole blood thrombus formation using parallel-plate flow chambers – a practical guide

Platelets. 2012;23(3):229-42. doi: 10.3109/09537104.2011.630848.


Custom-made and commercial parallel-plate flow chambers are widely used for studies of platelet activation and thrombus formation in whole blood at defined shear rates. When used in a reproducible way, such flow chamber devices give valuable information on the thrombogenic potential of human, mouse, or rat blood. This article aims to provide a practical guide for the use of parallel-plate flow chambers in combination with routine microscopic imaging techniques. The following methodological aspects are addressed: preparation of surface coatings, calculation of blood flow and shear rate, control of pre-analytical variables, protocols for routine performing of flow chamber tests with non-coagulating or coagulating blood, and procedures for real-time and end-point analysis of thrombus formation. Frequently encountered experimental problems and artifacts are discussed, as well as possibilities for using flow chamber devices as a diagnostic tool to test antithrombotic medication.