Platelet Function Disorders

Also known as: Acquired platelet function disorders, congenital platelet function defects, thrombasthenia.

What are platelet function disorders?

Platelets are a small type of cell that circulates in the blood that helps the blood clot properly. They do this by clumping together and plugging up holes (injuries) in blood vessels. There are normally between 150,000 - 350,000 of them.

A child may have less than the normal number of platelets (thrombocytopenia), or a normal number of platelets than don't function properly (thrombasthenia).

What causes platelet function disorders?

There are a large number of inherited genetic (passed from parent/s to child) disorders of platelet function, which may be divided into 5 groups depending on the type of abnormality:

  • disorders of platelet adhesion
  • disorders of platelet aggregation
  • disorders of platelet secretion
  • disorders of platelet procoagulant activity
  • or combined abnormalities of number and function.

Plus acquired platelet dysfunction disorders (from a variety of medical conditions and drugs).

What are the symptoms of platelet function disorders?

Symptoms may be very mild to severe bleeding, and can differ among family members with the same disorder. Common symptoms include:

  • Easy bruising
  • Nosebleeds
  • Heavy periods
  • Bleeding gums when baby teeth fall out
  • Bleeding into the gut
  • Excessive bleeding during surgery or after minor injuries.

What are platelet function disorders care options?

Depending on the type of platelet function disorder and its severity (minor small bruises or cuts may not require much treatment), most will require management of bleeding (with transfusions and a number of medications) and careful monitoring for any potential bleeding problems subsequently.

Dentists and surgeons should be informed that a person has a platelet function disorder so treatment to prevent bleeding can be planned.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: April 06, 2022 03:06 PM

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