What Is Thrombocytopenia?
Thrombocytopenia (THROM-bo-si-to-PE-ne-ah) is a
condition in which your blood has a low number of blood cell fragments called
Platelets are made in your bone marrow along with
other kinds of blood cells. They travel through your blood vessels and stick
together (clot) to stop any bleeding that could happen if a blood vessel is
damaged. Platelets also are called thrombocytes (THROM-bo-sites), because a
clot also is called a thrombus.
When your blood has a low number of platelets, mild
to serious bleeding can occur. This bleeding can happen inside the body
(internal bleeding) or on the skin.
A normal platelet count is 150,000 to 450,000
platelets per microliter of blood. A count of less than 150,000 platelets per
microliter is lower than normal. But the risk for serious bleeding doesn't
occur until the count becomes very lowless than 10,000 or 20,000
platelets per microliter. Milder bleeding sometimes occurs when the count
is less than 50,000 platelets per microliter.
Several factors can cause a low platelet count, such
- The body's bone marrow doesn't make enough
- The bone marrow makes enough platelets, but the
body destroys them or uses them up.
- The spleen holds onto too many platelets.
The spleen is an organ that normally stores about one-third of the body's
platelets. It also helps your body fight infection and remove unwanted cell
- A combination of the above factors.
How long thrombocytopenia lasts depends on its
cause. It can range from days to years.
The treatment for this condition also depends on its
cause and severity. Mild thrombocytopenia most often doesn't need treatment. If
the condition is causing serious bleeding, or if you're at risk for serious
bleeding, you may need medicines or
or platelet transfusions. Rarely, the spleen may need to be removed.
Thrombocytopenia can be fatal, especially if the
bleeding is severe or occurs in the brain. However, the overall outlook is
good, especially if the cause of the low platelet count is found and