Semin Thromb Hemost 2008; 34(5): 417-424
DOI: 10.1055/s-0028-1092871
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Thrombocytopenia in Critically Ill Patients

Marcel Levi1 , Ester C. Löwenberg1
  • 1Department Internal Medicine, Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
27 October 2008 (online)


Critically ill patients often have a low platelet count. A proper identification of the underlying cause of this abnormality is required, because various underlying disorders may necessitate different diagnostic and therapeutic management strategies. Platelets are part of the first line of defense of the body against bleeding, hence, thrombocytopenia may increase the risk of hemorrhage. In case of systemic inflammatory syndromes, such as the response to sepsis, disseminated intravascular platelet activation may occur, which will contribute to microvascular failure and thereby play a role in the development of organ dysfunction. A low platelet count is a strong and independent predictor of an adverse outcome in critically ill patients, thereby facilitating a simple and practical risk assessment in these patients and potentially guiding the use of complex or expensive treatment strategies.


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Marcel LeviM.D. Ph.D. F.R.C.P. 

Department Internal Medicine, Academic Medical Centre F-4, Meibergdreef 9

1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands