Platelet transfusions and bleeding complications associated with plasma exchange catheter placement in patients with presumed thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura

Steven M Duffy, Thomas E Coyle
Journal of Clinical Apheresis 2013, 28 (5): 356-8

INTRODUCTION: Bleeding risk because of thrombocytopenia in patients with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) often causes concern during placement of the central venous catheter for plasma exchange. This perceived risk of bleeding often triggers prophylactic platelet transfusion; however, the risk of platelet transfusion is unknown.

METHODS: Single institution review of bleeding episodes after catheter insertion in patients with suspected TTP.

RESULTS: Fifty-five thrombocytopenic patients with presumed TTP underwent a total of 57 catheter insertion attempts. There were no major bleeding complications and no bleeding that required invasive intervention. Fourteen patients with a median platelet count of 12,000/µL were transfused with platelets prior to catheter placement. Five (35%) of the transfused patients had minor bleeding complications that did not require intervention. In the nontransfused group, 12 (28%) patients had minor bleeding that did not require invasive intervention and three patients experienced bleeding episodes that resolved after applying direct pressure. Eight (15%) patients died during admission. Mortality in the transfused group was 43% versus 5% in the nontransfused group. In general, patients receiving platelet transfusion prior to catheter insertion were more acutely ill.

CONCLUSION: There were no major bleeding complications associated with plasma exchange catheter insertion in thrombocytopenic patients with presumed TTP. In light of the uncertain risk of platelet transfusion in patients with TTP, it may be reasonable to forgo prophylactic platelet transfusion prior to catheter placement.

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