Platelets play a key role in the regulation of haemostasis,clot stability and retraction, vascular repair, and exert an increasingly recognised function in host defence. Conversely,platelets are also implied in many pathophysiological processes, such as thrombosis, haemorrhage, inflammation,atherogenesis, tumour growth and metastasis. Thus quantitative and qualitative platelet alterations have been associated with distinct clinical diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, tumour metastasis and sepsis, and consequently different diagnostic platelet markers are correlated with the prognosis and severity of these diseases. While primary platelet functional abnormalities are very rare diseases, acquired platelet function disorders are rather frequent and occur in the context of many diseases and in association with several drugs. Furthermore, the introduction of a great variety of different anti-platelet agents leads to iatrogenic states of therapeutically reduced platelet function. This review provides an overview of the methodological principles of platelet function analysis, the currently available diagnostic devices, the application and suitability for the diagnosis of different platelet function disorders and the restrictions of each method, to promote an optimal selection of diagnostic tests.

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