Acquired Platelet Function Disorder

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

An acquired platelet function disorder refers to an abnormalityin the clotting ability of the platelets that develops sometime after birth.Platelets are a type of cell found in the blood that help the blood to clot.A number of disorders can affect the function of platelets.

What is going on in the body?

Platelets, along with a number of other substances in theblood, help blood to clot. When a person cuts him- or herself, bloodmust clot, or turn solid, to stop the bleeding. When platelets lose theirability to function for any reason, abnormal bleeding and bruising mayoccur.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

There are many possible causes of acquired plateletfunction defect. Common causes are as follows:

  • certain cancers of the blood, such asmultiple myelomaand polycythemia vera
  • long-standing kidney failure, known aschronic renal failure
  • medicines, including aspirin, penicillin, and nonsteroidalanti-inflammatory drugs, which are called NSAIDs
  • open heart surgery
  • severe liver disease,such as cirrhosis
  • systemic lupus erythematosus,which is an autoimmune disorderwhere a person’s immune system attacks his or her own body forunknown reasons
  • Symptoms & Signs

    What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?

    An acquired platelet function disorder may cause nosymptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, they are usually mild,unless the person has another blood-clotting problem. Some of thesymptoms include:

  • abnormally heavy bleeding from cuts or other injuries
  • easy bruising
  • nosebleeds
  • petechiae,which are small red dots on the skin that signal tiny areas of bleeding
  • Diagnosis & Tests

    How is the condition diagnosed?

    Diagnosis of acquired platelet function defect begins with amedical history and physical exam. A blood test called a completeblood count, or CBC,is often done first. This test counts the number and types of cells in theblood.

    If the platelet count is in a healthy range, a test called the bleeding timecan help confirm the diagnosis. In this test, the forearm is scratched tocause a small area of bleeding. The amount of time it takes for thescratch to stop bleeding is then measured. When the platelets are notworking properly, this time will be longer than normal.

    More specialized tests of platelet function may also be done.These tests can help detect the exact type and severity of the problem.

    Prevention & Expectations

    What can be done to prevent the condition?

    Most cases of acquired platelet function defect cannotbe prevented. Avoiding alcohol abuse,which is the most common cause of cirrhosis,could prevent many cases due to liver disease.

    What are the long-term effects of the condition?

    Most long-term effects are related to the cause of the acquiredplatelet function defect. For example, cases due to medicines usually goaway when the medicine is stopped. These cases may cause no long-termeffects. If the cause is canceror liver disease,death may result. In rare cases, platelet functionproblems can cause serious abnormal bleeding in certain areas, such asthe brain.

    What are the risks to others?

    Acquired platelet function disorderspose no risk to others.

    Treatment & Monitoring

    What are the treatments for the condition?

    If the cause is a medicine, the medicine can be stopped,and the problem usually goes away. In cases due to other causes,treatment is directed at the cause when possible. Someone who hasblood cancer may need chemotherapy.An individual with systemic lupus erythematosusmay need medicines such as prednisone to suppress the immune system.

    Regardless of the cause, a platelet transfusion, which issimilar to a blood transfusion,can be given if severe bleeding occurs. Rarely, a drug called DDAVP isused when platelet bleeding problems occur in a person with kidney failure.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    A platelet transfusion may cause anallergic reactionor infection. DDAVP may cause fluid retention andhigh blood pressure.

    What happens after treatment for the condition?

    If the condition is caused by a medicine, it will go awayafter the medicine is stopped. No further treatment may be needed inthese cases. Those with more serious causes, such as cancer or liverfailure, often need further treatment for these conditions.

    How is the condition monitored?

    Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to thedoctor. Tests of platelet function may also be repeated in some cases.

    Article type: xmedgeneral