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Chapter: Biology of Disease: Disorders of the Blood

Thrombocytopenia and Thrombocytosis

In thrombocytopenia there is reduced platelet production. The clotting time may be only slightly prolonged but the clot formed is soft and does not retract.

THROMBOCYTOPENIA AND THROMBOCYTOSIS

In thrombocytopenia there is reduced platelet production. The clotting time may be only slightly prolonged but the clot formed is soft and does not retract. The condition can result from many diseases where bone marrow does not produce enough platelets, or where they become entrapped in an enlarged spleen and destroyed, or is caused by some drugs. The symptoms of thrombocytopenia include bleeding in the skin, pinpoint bruises, bleeding gums and it can be life threatening. Suspected thrombocytopenia can be investigated by platelet counts, assessing the size of the spleen and by bone marrow biopsy. Treatments would be cessation of drugs, if that is the cause, and by transfusions of platelets.

In thrombocytosis, in contrast, there is a high platelet count and an increased chance of thrombosis. The condition can be primary, myeloproliferative disease, or secondary, for example following splenectomy or some other operations, bleeding following extreme exercise or by inflammatory diseases. Clinically patients present with bleeding disorders. The usual treatments are to give antiplatelet agents, such as aspirin or dipyridamole.


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