Main clinical manifestations of a bleeding diathesis: an often disregarded aspect of medical and surgical history taking

A Girolami, G Luzzatto, C Varvarikis, D Pellati, R Sartori, B Girolami
Haemophilia: the Official Journal of the World Federation of Hemophilia 2005, 11 (3): 193-202
A suitable clinical evaluation of a bleeding diathesis is often forgone. The young doctor is often unprepared to describe in an accurate way the different types of bleeding. An adequate classification and adequate clinical information about a bleeding diathesis are instead of paramount importance. Bleeding may be cutaneous, mucous, articular, muscular, parenchymal, intracavitary, orificial. Each of these sites and forms may have diagnostic implications. An accurate description of the several forms of cutaneous bleeding (petechiae, purpuric spots, ecchymosis, haematomas, etc.) is needed for referrals and for controls. The correct evaluation of cutaneous bleeding manifestations of children (battered child syndrome) is absolutely important for clinical and medico-legal purposes. The same is true for the battering syndrome seen in women abused by their spouses. The grading of haemarthrosis in haemophilia patients is important for the follow-up. A proper description of haematuria is essential in suggesting the probable site of bleeding (kidney or bladder or urethra). A proper evaluation of bleeding may give also useful information on the general health status of the patients (presence of anaemia, poor nutrition, renal insufficiency, etc.). The combination of bleeding and thrombosis in the same patient is also a clinical challenge. The relationship between haemorrhage and thrombosis may be sequential or concomitant. Sequential thrombosis may occur in a patient confined in bed for a brain haemorrhage. Concomitant thrombosis and bleeding occur in DIC and in patients with thrombosis being treated with anticoagulants. Finally, it should be kept in mind that a proper evaluation of the bleeding diathesis of a given patient may help the caring doctor in ordering appropriate laboratory tests (e.g. a platelet count for petechiae, a PTT for a patient with haemarthrosis, etc.).

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