Acquired platelet function defects are conditions that prevent clotting elements in the blood called platelets from working as they should. The term acquired means these conditions are not present at birth.
Platelet disorders can affect the number of platelets, how well they function, or both. A platelet disorder affects normal blood clotting.
Disorders that can cause problems in platelet function include:
- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia
- Multiple myeloma
- Primary myelofibrosis
- Polycythemia vera
- Primary thrombocythemia
- Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura
Other causes include:
- Kidney (renal) failure
- Medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, other anti-inflammatory drugs, penicillin, phenothiazines, and prednisone (after long-term use)
Symptoms may include any of the following:
- Heavy menstrual periods or prolonged bleeding (more than 5 days each period)
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Blood in the urine
- Bleeding under the skin or into the muscles
- Bruising easily or pinpoint red spots on the skin
- Gastrointestinal bleeding resulting in bloody, dark black, or tarry bowel movements; or vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
Treatment is aimed at fixing the cause of the problem:
- Bone marrow disorders are often treated with platelet transfusions or removing platelets from the blood (platelet pheresis).
- Chemotherapy may be used to treat an underlying condition that is causing the problem.
- Platelet function defects caused by kidney failure are treated with dialysis or medicines.
- Platelet problems caused by a certain medicine are treated by stopping the drug.
Most of the time, treating the cause of the problem corrects the defect.
Complications may include:
- Bleeding that does not stop easily
- Anemia (due to excessive bleeding)
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
- You have bleeding and do not know the cause
- Your symptoms get worse
- Your symptoms do not improve after you are treated for an acquired platelet function defect
Using medicines as directed can reduce the risk of drug-related acquired platelet function defects. Treating other disorders may also reduce the risk. Some cases cannot be prevented.
Acquired qualitative platelet disorders; Acquired disorders of platelet function
Diz-Kucukkaya R, Lopez JA, Acquired disorders of platelet function. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, Heslop HE, Weitz JI, Anastasi JI, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 132.
Jobe S, Di Paola J. Congenital and acquired disorders of platelet function. In: Kitchens CS, Kessler CM, Konkle BA, eds. Consultative Hemostasis and Thrombosis. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 10.
Review Date 1/22/2015
Updated by: Rita Nanda, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology, University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.