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Acquired platelet function defect

Acquired qualitative platelet disorders; Acquired disorders of platelet function

Acquired platelet function defects are conditions that prevent clotting elements in the blood called platelets from working as they should. The term acquired means these conditions are not present at birth.

Causes

Platelet disorders can affect the number of platelets, how well they function, or both. A platelet disorder affects normal blood clotting.

Disorders that can cause problems in platelet function include:

  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (bleeding disorder in which the immune system destroys platelets) 
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (blood cancer that starts inside bone marrow)
  • Multiple myeloma (blood cancer that starts in the plasma cells in the bone marrow)
  • Primary myelofibrosis (bone marrow disorder in which the marrow is replaced by fibrous scar tissue)
  • Polycythemia vera (bone marrow disease that leads to an abnormal increase in the number of blood cells)
  • Primary thrombocythemia (bone marrow disorder in which the marrow produces too many platelets)
  • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (blood disorder that causes blood clots to form in small blood vessels)

Other causes include:

  • Kidney (renal) failure
  • Medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, other anti-inflammatory drugs, penicillin, phenothiazines, and prednisone (after long-term use)

Symptoms

Symptoms may include any of the following:

Exams and Tests

Tests that may done include:

Treatment

Treatment is aimed at fixing the cause of the problem:

  • Bone marrow disorders are often treated with platelet transfusions or removing platelets from the blood (platelet pheresis).
  • Chemotherapy may be used to treat an underlying condition that is causing the problem.
  • Platelet function defects caused by kidney failure are treated with dialysis or medicines.
  • Platelet problems caused by a certain medicine are treated by stopping the drug.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most of the time, treating the cause of the problem corrects the defect.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

  • Bleeding that does not stop easily
  • Anemia (due to excessive bleeding)

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

  • You have bleeding and do not know the cause
  • Your symptoms get worse
  • Your symptoms do not improve after you are treated for an acquired platelet function defect

Prevention

Using medicines as directed can reduce the risk of drug-related acquired platelet function defects. Treating other disorders may also reduce the risk. Some cases cannot be prevented.

References

Diz-Kucukkaya R, Lopez JA. Acquired disorders of platelet function. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, Heslop HE, Weitz JI, Anastasi JI, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 132.

Hall JE. Hemostasis and blood coagulation. In: Hall JE, ed. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 37.

Jobe S, Di Paola J. Congenital and acquired disorders of platelet function and number. In: Kitchens CS, Kessler CM, Konkle BA, eds. Consultative Hemostasis and Thrombosis. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 10.

    • Blood clot formation

      Blood clot formation - illustration

      Blood clotting normally occurs when there is damage to a blood vessel. Platelets immediately begin to adhere to the cut edges of the vessel and release chemicals to attract even more platelets. A platelet plug is formed, and the external bleeding stops. Next, small molecules, called clotting factors, cause strands of blood-borne materials, called fibrin, to stick together and seal the inside of the wound. Eventually, the cut blood vessel heals and the blood clot dissolves after a few days.

      Blood clot formation

      illustration

    • Blood clots

      Blood clots - illustration

      Blood clots (fibrin clots) are the clumps that result when blood coagulates.

      Blood clots

      illustration

      • Blood clot formation

        Blood clot formation - illustration

        Blood clotting normally occurs when there is damage to a blood vessel. Platelets immediately begin to adhere to the cut edges of the vessel and release chemicals to attract even more platelets. A platelet plug is formed, and the external bleeding stops. Next, small molecules, called clotting factors, cause strands of blood-borne materials, called fibrin, to stick together and seal the inside of the wound. Eventually, the cut blood vessel heals and the blood clot dissolves after a few days.

        Blood clot formation

        illustration

      • Blood clots

        Blood clots - illustration

        Blood clots (fibrin clots) are the clumps that result when blood coagulates.

        Blood clots

        illustration

      Review Date: 2/1/2017

      Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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