A deficiency in platelets or a disorder that affects platelet production can disrupt clotting and severely complicate blood loss from accidental injury, surgery, and specific diseases or conditions in which bleeding can occur.
Because platelet counts are sometimes ordered to diagnose or monitor bleeding disorders, patients with these disorders should be cautioned to watch the puncture site for signs of additional bleeding.
Once a person is diagnosed with VWD, further testing such as vWF multimer analysis and ristocetin-induced platelet aggregation (RIPA) should be performed to determine the subtype.
Abnormally high platelet levels (thrombocytosis) may indicate either a benign reaction to an infection, surgery, or certain medications; or a disease like polycythemia vera, in which the bone marrow produces too many platelets too quickly.
In addition, if the patient has a high white blood cell count, electronic counting may yield an unusually low platelet count because white blood cells may filter out some of the platelets before the sample is counted.
If the factor VIII concentrates are unable to manage a severe bleeding episode, then blood products called cryoprecipitates, which contain concentrated amounts of vWF, or platelet concentrates should be considered.
If a platelet and another blood cell pass through the counter at the same time, the instrument will not count the larger cell, which will cause the instrument to accidentally miss the platelet.
The primary functions of a platelet count are to assist in the diagnosis of bleeding disorders and to monitor patients who are being treated for any disease involving bone marrow failure.
It can also lead to HELLP syndrome, with hemolysis (destruction) of red blood cells, elevated liver enzymes signaling liver damage, and low platelet count (leading to bleeding problems).
Rarely, inflammations of the heart or kidneys, a drop in platelet count (causing episodes of difficult-to-control bleeding), or reactivation of an old tuberculosis infection can occur.