Multiple causes (pseudothrombocytopenia, hemodilution, increased consumption,
decreased production, increased sequestration, and immune-mediated destruction
of platelets) alone or in combination make thrombocytopenia very common in intensive care unit (ICU) patients. Persisting thrombocytopenia in critically ill patients is associated with, but not causative of, increased mortality.
Identification of the underlying cause is key for management decisions in individual
patients. While platelet transfusion might be indicated in patients with impaired platelet production or increased platelet destruction, it could be deleterious in patients with increased intravascular platelet activation. Sepsis and trauma are the most common
causes of thrombocytopenia in the ICU.
In these patients, treatment of the underlying disease will also increase platelet counts. Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia requires alternative anticoagulation at a therapeutic dose and immune thrombocytopenia immunomodulatory treatment. Thrombocytopenia
with symptomatic bleeding at or above World Health Organization grade 2 or planned invasive procedures are established indications for platelet transfusions, while the evidence for a benefit of prophylactic platelet transfusions is weak and controversial. If the platelet count does not increase after transfusion of 2 fresh ABO blood group–identical platelet concentrates (therapeutic units), ongoing platelet consumption and high-titer antiHLA class I antibodies should be considered.
The latter requires transfusion of HLA-compatible platelet concentrates.
BLOOD, 29 DECEMBER 2016 x VOLUME 128, NUMBER 26