World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000515380
Reproduction Date:

Title: Thrombocytopenia  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Hemolytic-uremic syndrome, TAR syndrome, Fanconi anemia, List of dog diseases, Hematologic disease
Collection: Coagulopathies, Hematopathology, Medical Signs
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A picture of the blood under a microscopy showing thrombocytopenia
A picture of the blood under a microscopy showing thrombocytopenia
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 D69.6
ICD-9-CM 287.5

Thrombocytopenia and thrombopenia refer to a disorder in which there is a relative decrease of thrombocytes, commonly known as platelets, present in the blood.[1]

A normal human platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood.[2] These limits are determined by the 2.5th lower and upper percentile, so values outside this range do not necessarily indicate disease. One common definition of thrombocytopenia that requires emergency treatment is a platelet count below 50,000 per microliter.[3]


  • Signs and symptoms 1
  • Causes 2
    • Decreased production 2.1
    • Increased destruction 2.2
    • Medication-induced 2.3
    • Other causes 2.4
  • Diagnosis 3
  • Treatment 4
    • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura 4.1
    • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura 4.2
    • Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia 4.3
    • Congenital amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia 4.4
  • Neonatal thrombocytopenia 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Signs and symptoms

Thrombocytopenia usually has no symptoms and is picked up on a routine of full blood count (or complete blood count). Some individuals with thrombocytopenia may experience external bleeding such as nosebleeds, and/or bleeding gums. Some women may have heavier or longer periods or breakthrough bleeding. Bruising, particularly purpura in the forearms, may be caused by spontaneous bleeding under the skin. Petechia (pinpoint bleeds in the skin and mucous membranes), may occur on feet and legs.[4][5]

Eliciting a full medical history is vital to ensure the low platelet count is not due to a secondary process. It is also important to ensure that the other blood cell types, such as red blood cells and white blood cells, are not also suppressed.[4] Painless, round and pinpoint (1 to 3 mm in diameter) petechiae usually appear and fade, and sometimes group to form ecchymoses. Larger than petechiae, ecchymoses are purple, blue or yellow-green areas of skin that vary in size and shape. They can occur anywhere on the body.[4]

A person with this disease may also complain of malaise, fatigue and general weakness (with or without accompanying blood loss). In acquired thrombocytopenia, the patient's history may include the use of one or several offending drugs. Inspection typically reveals evidence of bleeding (petechiae or ecchymoses), along with slow, continuous bleeding from any injuries or wounds. Adults may have large, blood-filled bullae in the mouth.[6] If the person's platelet count is between 30,000 and 50,000/mm3, bruising with minor trauma may be expected; if it is between 15,000 and 30,000/mm3, spontaneous bruising will be seen (mostly on the arms and legs).[7]


The causes of thrombocytopenia can be inherited or acquired.[8]

Decreased production

Can be due to the following reasons:[9]

Increased destruction


can be due to immune or non-immune reasons.[10]


Thrombocytopenia-inducing medications include:[11]

Other causes


Laboratory tests might include: full blood count, liver enzymes, kidney function, vitamin B12 levels, folic acid levels, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and peripheral blood smear. If the cause for the low platelet count remains unclear, a bone marrow biopsy is usually recommended, to differentiate whether the low platelet count is due to decreased production or peripheral destruction.[15]

Thrombocytopenia in hospitalized alcoholics may be caused by spleen enlargement, folate deficiency, and, most frequently, a direct toxic effect of alcohol on production, survival time, and function of platelets.[16] Platelet count begins to rise after 2 to 5 days' abstinence from alcohol. The condition is generally benign, and clinically significant hemorrhage is rare. In severe thrombocytopenia, a bone marrow study can determine the number, size and maturity of the megakaryocytes (the bone marrow cells that release mature platelets). This information may identify ineffective platelet production as the cause of thrombocytopenia and rule out a malignant disease process at the same time.[17]


Treatment is guided by the cause and disease severity. The main concept in treating thrombocytopenia is to eliminate the underlying problem, whether that means discontinuing suspected drugs that cause thrombocytopenia, or treating underlying sepsis. Diagnosis and treatment of serious thrombocytopenia is usually directed by a hematologist.Corticosteroids may be used to increase platelet production. Lithium carbonate or folate may also be used to stimulate the bone marrow production of platelets.[18]

Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura

Treatment of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura is a medical emergency, since the hemolytic anemia and platelet activation can lead to renal failure and changes in the level of consciousness. Treatment of TTP was revolutionized in the 1980s with the application of plasmapheresis. According to the Furlan-Tsai hypothesis [19] this treatment theoretically works by removing antibodies directed against the von Willebrand factor cleaving protease, ADAMTS-13. The plasmapheresis procedure also adds active ADAMTS-13 protease proteins to the patient, restoring a more physiological state of von Willebrand factor multimers. Patients with persistent antibodies against ADAMTS-13 do not always manifest TTP, and these antibodies alone are not sufficient to explain how plasmapheresis treats TTP.[20]

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

Oral petechiae/purpura - Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

Many cases of ITP can be left untreated, and spontaneous remission (especially in children) is not uncommon. However, counts of under 50,000 are usually monitored with regular blood tests, and those with counts of under 10,000 are usually treated, as the risk of serious spontaneous bleeding is high with a platelet count this low. Any patient experiencing severe bleeding symptoms is also usually treated. The threshold for treating ITP has decreased since the 1990s, and hematologists recognize that patients rarely spontaneously bleed with platelet counts greater than 10,000—though there are documented exceptions to this observation.[21] [22]

Thrombopoetin analogues have been tested extensively for the treatment of ITP. These agents had previously shown promise but had been found to stimulate antibodies against endogenous thrombopoietin or lead to thrombosis.Romiplostim (trade name Nplate, formerly AMG 531) was found to be safe and effective for the treatment of ITP in refractory patients, especially those who relapsed following splenectomy.[23]

Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia

Discontinuation of heparin is critical in a case of HITT. Beyond that, however, clinicians generally treat to avoid a thrombosis, and patients started directly on warfarin [24] For this reason, patients are usually treated with a type of blood thinner called a direct thrombin inhibitor such as lepirudin or argatroban, which are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Other blood thinners sometimes used in this setting that are not FDA-approved for treatment of HITT include bivalirudin and fondaparinux. Platelet transfusions are not a routine component of the treatment of HITT, since thrombosis, not bleeding, is the usual associated problem in this illness.[25]

Congenital amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia

Bone marrow/stem cell transplant is the only thing that ultimately cures this genetic disease. Frequent platelet transfusions are required to keep the patient from bleeding to death until transplant is done, although this is not always the case.[26]

Neonatal thrombocytopenia

Thrombocytopenia affects a few percent of newborns, and its prevalence in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) is high. Normally, its course is mild and it resolves without consequences. Most of the cases of thrombocytopenia affect preterm birth infants and are results of placental insufficiency and/or fetal hypoxia. The other causes are less frequent, e.g. alloimmune, genetic, autoimmune, infection, and DIC.[27]

Thrombocytopenia that starts after the first 72 hours since birth is often the result of underlying sepsis or necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).[27] In the case of infection the PCR tests may be useful for rapid pathogen identification and detection of antibiotic resistance genes. The possible pathogens may be fungus, bacteria and viruses, for example: Cytomegalovirus (CMV),[27] rubella virus,[27] HIV,[27] Staphylococcus sp.,[28] Enterococcus sp.,[28] Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS),[27] Listeria monocytogenes,[29] Escherichia coli,[27][28] Haemophilus influenzae,[27] Klebsiella pneumoniae,[28] Pseudomonas aeruginosa,[28][30] Yersinia enterocolitica,[30] Candida sp.,[28] and Toxoplasma gondii.[27] The severity of thrombocytopenia might be correlated with the type of a pathogen; some research indicates that the most severe cases are related to fungal or gram-negative bacterial infection.[28] The pathogen may be transmitted during birth[31] or prior to it, but also by breast feeding[32][33][34] or during transfusion.[35] Interleukin-11 is being investigated as a potential drug for aiding thrombocytopenia management, especially in the cases of sepsis or necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).[27]


  1. ^ Deutschman, Clifford S.; Neligan, Patrick J. (2010). Evidence-based Practice of Critical Care. Elsevier Health Sciences.  
  2. ^ "Platelet count: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  3. ^ "What Is Thrombocytopenia? - NHLBI, NIH". Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  5. ^ Houghton, Andrew R.; Gray, David (2010-05-28). Chamberlain's Symptoms and Signs in Clinical Medicine 13th Edition, An Introduction to Medical Diagnosis. CRC Press.  
  6. ^ Interpreting Signs and Symptoms. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2007. p. 293. 
  7. ^ Rosdahl, Caroline Bunker; Kowalski, Mary T. (2008). Textbook of Basic Nursing. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.  
  8. ^ "What Causes Thrombocytopenia?". National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  9. ^ Fiebach, Nicholas H.; Barker, Lee Randol; Burton, John Russell; Zieve, Philip D. (2007). Principles of Ambulatory Medicine. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.  
  10. ^ Rodak, Bernadette F.; Fritsma, George A.; Keohane, Elaine (2013-12-27). Hematology: Clinical Principles and Applications. Elsevier Health Sciences.  
  11. ^ Gresele, Paolo; Fuster, Valentin; Lopez, Jose A.; Page, Clive P.; Vermylen, Jos (2007-12-13). Platelets in Hematologic and Cardiovascular Disorders: A Clinical Handbook. Cambridge University Press.  
  12. ^ Waldmann, Carl; Soni, Neil; Rhodes, Andrew (2008-11-27). Oxford Desk Reference: Critical Care. Oxford University Press.  
  13. ^ Dart, Richard C. (2004). Medical Toxicology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.  
  14. ^ Greer, John P.; Arber, Daniel A.; Glader, Bertil; List, Alan F.; Means, Robert T.; Paraskevas, Frixos; Rodgers, George M. (2013-08-29). Wintrobe's Clinical Hematology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.  
  15. ^ "How Is Thrombocytopenia Diagnosed? - NHLBI, NIH". Retrieved 2015-05-19. 
  16. ^ Lieber, Charles S. (2012-12-06). Medical and Nutritional Complications of Alcoholism: Mechanisms and Management. Springer Science & Business Media.  
  17. ^ Hillyer, Christopher D.; Abrams, Charles S.; Shaz, Beth H.; Roshal, Mikhail; Zimring, James C.; Abshire, Thomas C. (2009-06-09). Transfusion Medicine and Hemostasis: Clinical and Laboratory Aspects. Elsevier.  
  18. ^ Lawrence, Peter F.; Bell, Richard M.; Dayton, Merril T. (2012-10-31). Essentials of General Surgery. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.  
  19. ^ "Thieme E-Journals - Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis / Full Text". Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  20. ^ "How Is Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura Treated? - NHLBI, NIH". Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  21. ^ Thrombocytopenic Purpura: New Insights for the Healthcare Professional: 2013 Edition: ScholarlyPaper. ScholarlyEditions. 2013-07-22.  
  22. ^ "Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP): MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  23. ^ "Nplate (romiplostim) for subcutaneous injection". Retrieved 2015-05-02. 
  24. ^ Warkentin, Theodore E.; Greinacher, Andreas (2007-07-23). Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia. CRC Press.  
  25. ^ Ahmed, I; Majeed, A; Powell, R (2007). "Heparin induced thrombocytopenia: diagnosis and management update". Postgraduate Medical Journal 83 (983): 575–582.  
  26. ^ Smit-Sibinga, C. Th (2010-05-10). Neonatology and Blood Transfusion. Springer Science & Business Media.  
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Roberts, I; Murray, NA (2003). "Neonatal thrombocytopenia: causes and management". Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition 88 (5): F359–64.  
  28. ^ a b c d e f g Guida, JD; Kunig, AM; Leef, KH; McKenzie, SE; Paul, DA (2003). "Platelet count and sepsis in very low birth weight neonates: is there an organism-specific response?". Pediatrics 111 (6 Pt 1): 1411–5.  
  29. ^ D Dzierzanowska (2001). Antybiotykoterapia praktyczna.  
  30. ^ a b Pacifico, L; Chiesa, C; Mirabella, S; Panero, A; Midulla, M (1987). "Early-onset Pseudomonas aeruginosa sepsis and Yersinia enterocolitica neonatal infection: a unique combination in a preterm infant". European journal of pediatrics 146 (2): 192–3.  
  31. ^ Rempen, A; Martius, J; Hartmann, AA; Wecker, I (1987). "Transmission rate of Ureaplasma urealyticum, Mycoplasma spp., Gardnerella vaginalis, B-streptococci, Candida spp. and Chlamydia trachomatis from the mother to the newborn". Archives of gynecology and obstetrics 241 (3): 165–70.  
  32. ^ Olver, WJ; Bond, DW; Boswell, TC; Watkin, SL (2000). "Neonatal group B streptococcal disease associated with infected breast milk". Archives of disease in childhood. Fetal and neonatal edition 83 (1): F48–9.  
  33. ^ Kotiw, M; Zhang, GW; Daggard, G; Reiss-Levy, E; Tapsall, JW; Numa, A (2003). "Late-onset and recurrent neonatal Group B streptococcal disease associated with breast-milk transmission". Pediatric and developmental pathology : the official journal of the Society for Pediatric Pathology and the Paediatric Pathology Society 6 (3): 251–6.  
  34. ^ Gastelum, DT; Dassey, D; Mascola, L; Yasuda, LM (2005). "Transmission of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus from breast milk in the neonatal intensive care unit". The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 24 (12): 1122–4.  
  35. ^ Jagielski, Marek; Rastawicki, Waldemar; Kałużewski, Stanisław; Gierczyński, Rafał (2007). "Jersinioza – niedoceniana choroba zakaźna" [Yersiniosis – unappreciated infectious diseases] (PDF). Przegl Epidemiol (in Polish) 56 (1): 57–64.  

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.