Erythromelalgic, thrombotic and hemorrhagic manifestations in 50 cases of thrombocythemia

J J Michiels, P J van Genderen, J Lindemans, H H van Vliet
Leukemia & Lymphoma 1996, 22: 47-56
Fifty consecutive patients with thrombocythemia (35 men and 15 women) were diagnosed as primary thrombocythemia (PT) in 30 and thrombocythemia associated with polycythemia vera (PV) in 20. The symptoms were platelet-mediated erythromelalgia in 16 PT and 15 PV, coronary artery disease in 3 PT and 2 PV, atypical cerebral ischemic attacks in 8 PT and 3 PV, paradoxical thrombosis and bleeding in 3 PT and 2 PV and hemorrhages alone in 6 PT and 2 PV patients. Erythromelalgia was localized in the forefoot sole and toes in 28, the fingertips in 9, the handpalm in 2. Untreated erythromelalgia progressed to acrocyanosis or peripheral ischemia with necrosis in a toe or fingertip in 14 cases. Painful red, warm and indurated erythromelalgic hot spots in the skin of the upper legs were misdiagnosed as superficial thrombophelebitis in 5 PT and 2 PV patients. Erythromelalgia in thrombocythemia already occurred at slightly increased platelet counts above 400 x 10(9)/l. The curative effect of aspirin on erythromelalgia in thrombocythemia was consistently accompanied by a significant increase of platelet counts. Erythromelalgia and bleeding paradoxically occurred in 5 patients at platelet counts between 1000 and 2000 x 10(9)/l. In this situation aspirin prevents erythromelalgic and microcirculatory circulation disturbances, but further increases the risk of serious bleeding complications. Presenting hemorrhagic manifestations in thrombocythemia were observed at platelet counts in excess of 1000 x 10(9)/l in 9 PT and 4 PV patients as severe epistaxis in 5, atypical ecchymoses in 3, gastrointestinal bleeding in 2 and secondary bleeding in 3. The concept of platelet-mediated erythromelalgia, thrombosis and hemorrhages in thrombocythemia is discussed.

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