Platelet transfusions: treatment options for hemorrhage secondary to thrombocytopenia

Bryan D Hux, Linda G Martin
Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care 2012, 22 (1): 73-80

OBJECTIVE: To review current human and veterinary protocols for platelet transfusion triggers, available platelet transfusion products to support veterinary thrombocytopenic patients, and the advantages and disadvantages of each product.

DATA SOURCES: Data from human and veterinary literature.

HUMAN DATA SYNTHESIS: Prophylactic and therapeutic platelet transfusions are instrumental in managing human patients with thrombocytopenia. The platelet transfusion products used in human medicine consist of platelet concentrates, derived from pooled random donor platelets, or single-donor apheresis platelets. Historically, platelet transfusions in human medicine have been prophylactic in nature; however, recent research suggests changing from a prophylactic transfusion strategy to a therapeutic transfusion strategy may be safe for most patients. The optimal platelet transfusion trigger and the use of prophylactic verses therapeutic platelet transfusions are ever changing in human medicine.

VETERINARY DATA SYNTHESIS: There have been many advances in platelet transfusion products, but fresh whole blood remains the most commonly used platelet transfusion product in veterinary medicine. New products such as lyophilized platelets and cryopreserved platelets offer the benefits of long shelf life, immediate availability, and higher concentration of platelets at smaller doses. Veterinary platelet transfusion guidelines are mostly extrapolated from human literature because data on veterinary platelet transfusions are lacking.

CONCLUSIONS: In veterinary medicine the most commonly available product for platelet transfusions is fresh whole blood, because of availability of blood donors and lack of a cost effective easily obtainable alternative. Cryopreserved and lyophilized platelets are promising new products being used in the treatment of hemorrhaging patients with thrombocytopenia. These products offer increased platelet concentrations at decreased volumes, longer storage shelf life, and decreased exposure to whole blood products. With the development of newer readily available products, platelet transfusion parameters, to include dose, platelet count trigger, presence of disease, and clinical signs, should be further evaluated in veterinary medicine.

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