Thrombocytopenia in the Intensive Care Unit

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Abstract

Thrombocytopenia is a common laboratory finding in critically ill patients admitted to the intensive care unit. Potential etiologies of thrombocytopenia are myriad, ranging from acute disease processes and concomitant conditions to exposures and drugs. The mechanism of decreased platelet counts can also be varied: laboratory measurement may be spurious, platelet production may be decreased, or platelet destruction or sequestration may be increased. In addition to evaluation for the cause of thrombocytopenia, the clinician must also guard against spontaneous bleeding due to thrombocytopenia, prophylax against bleeding resulting from an invasive procedure performed in the setting of thrombocytopenia, and treat active bleeding related to thrombocytopenia.

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