Management of Select Thrombocytopenias

Thomas A VanDruff
AACN Advanced Critical Care 2019, 30 (2): 165-180
Evaluating, diagnosing, and managing patients with consumptive thrombocytopenia is challenging because of the overlapping nature of many of the diseases that reduce platelet counts. Immune thrombocytopenia (and its variations), drug-induced immune thrombocytopenia, and heparin-induced thrombocytopenia result from autoimmune antibody-mediated destruction of platelets. Thrombotic thrombocytopenia (both congenital and acquired) and the hemolytic uremic syndromes (both typical and atypical) are thrombotic microangiopathies associated with platelet aggregation and consumption along with anemia and renal dysfunction. Rapid history taking, physical assessment, and laboratory evaluation are crucial to accurately managing patients with these disorders. Platelet-associated coagulopathies are infrequently encountered by most providers, and limited exposure to these types of patients, combined with the wide variety of treatment options for reversing bleeding or thrombotic sequelae, makes management difficult. This article reviews the pathophysiology, patient presentation, diagnostic testing, and specific management strategies and challenges of these thrombocytopenias.

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