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Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)

Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)

Thrombocytopenia is defined as a platelet count less than 150 plt/nL.

It is considered to be mild when the platelet count is between 70 and 150 plt/nL, and severe if less than 20 plt/nL. Platelets live for approximately 7 to 10 days. But this can be shortened because of increased platelet destruction. The circulating platelets depend on their production and destruction rate and if the platelets are being trapped or sequestered.

Bleeding causes the main symptoms of thrombocytopenia. Symptoms can appear suddenly or over time. When it is mild it often has no symptoms. In fact, it is often found during a routine blood test.

SYMPTOMS OF thrombocytopenia

Thrombocytopenia signs and symptoms may include:

  • Bleeding that lasts a long time, even from small injuries
  • Petechiae, which are small, flat red spots under the skin caused by blood leaking from blood vessels
  • Purpura, which is bleeding in your skin that can cause red, purple, or brownish- yellow spots
  • Nosebleeds or bleeding from your gums
  • Blood in your urine or stool, which can appear as red blood or as a dark, tarry colour
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
Platelet Count with a drop of blood

Causes of Thrombocytopenia

Thrombocytopenia can happen through different mechanisms. In uremia, for example, it can be caused both by a decrease in platelet production, and an increase in platelet destruction due to haemodialysis. Moreover, thrombocytopenia can be benign in some cases, like in pregnancy. The cause for this change in platelet count in pregnancy is not known, but it is benign in most cases.

Trapped platelets

Occasionally, platelets are shifted into the spleen. This can make your platelet count look lower than it actually is. The reticular cells may start sensing normal platelets as abnormal or foreign, and remove them from the circulation. This process can occur with portal hypertension, sarcoidosis, lymphomas, Gaucher disease, Felty syndrome, myelofibrosis, and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

Decreased production of platelets

Platelets are produced in your bone marrow. Factors that can decrease platelet production include:

  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial and other infections such as malaria
  • Bone marrow malignancies such as several types of leukemia and lymphomas
  • Drug-induced thrombocytopenia, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy
  • Liver disease and chronic alcohol abuse

Increased breakdown of platelets

Some conditions can cause your body to use up or destroy platelets faster than they’re produced. Causing a shortage of platelets in your bloodstream. Examples of such conditions include:

  • Autoimmune diseases such as immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or pulmonary embolism.
  • Surgery, due to platelets going through artificial heart valves, blood vessel grafts, machines and tubing.
  • Drug-induced thrombocytopenia. The mechanism for drug-induced thrombocytopenia can vary, but it is often caused by the immune system, like in heparin induced thrombocytopenia.

Platelet Count from a drop of blood PC100™ PLATELET COUNTER

The PC100 Platelet Counter is a highly portable point-of-care device that accurately counts platelets / thrombocytes between 20–600 platelets/nanoliter in venous whole blood samples.

The automatic cell counter for thrombocytes or platelets is able to accurately count platelet concentrations in whole blood and in Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP).

The platelet counter is a device which removes the need to count thrombocytes manually and is a cost effective, small and a flexible alternative to flow-cytometers for platelet counts. All parts that come into contact with blood are disposable – no contamination, no cleaning time.

PC100 Thrombocyte / Platelet Counter
PC100 Platelet Counter

Platelet count results within 15 minutes.


Highly accurate counts, using 20μl of blood or 10μl of PRP. Medically validated by Maastricht University Hospital.


The device uses disposable counting slides making it is fast, clean and accurate.


It counts platelets in whole blood within the range [20-600] platelets per nl and [250-3600] in PRP. 


[1] Neunert C, Lim W, Crowther MA, Cohen A, Solberg L. The American Society of Hematology 2011 evidence-based practice guideline for immune thrombocytopenia. Blood. 2011;117(16). doi:10.1182/blood-2010-08-302984

[2] Greenberg EM, Kaled ES. Thrombocytopenia. Crit Care Nurs Clin North Am. 2013;25(4):427-434. doi:10.1016/j.ccell.2013.08.003

[3] National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Thrombocytopenia”. nhlbi.nih.gov https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/thrombocytopenia.