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Health Information

Acquired platelet function defect

Acquired platelet function defect


Acquired qualitative platelet disorders; Acquired disorders of platelet function

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.

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • Causes

    With platelet disorders can affect the number of platelets, how well they function, or both. Any platelet disorder affects normal blood clotting.

    Disorders that can cause problems in platelet function include:

    • Chronic myelogenous leukemia
    • Primary myelofibrosis
    • Polycythemia vera
    • Primary thrombocythemia

    Other causes include:

    • Kidney (renal) failure
    • Multiple myeloma
    • Medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs, penicillins, phenothiazines, and prednisone (after long-term use)
  • Symptoms

    • Abnormal menstrual periods
      • Heavy menstrual periods
      • Prolonged menstrual bleeding (more than 5 days per menstrual period)
    • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
    • Bleeding in the urine
    • Bleeding under the skin or in the muscles (soft tissues)
    • Gastrointestinal bleeding
      • Bloody, dark black, or tarry bowel movements
      • Vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
    • Nosebleeds
    • Prolonged bleeding, easy bruising
    • Skin rash
      • Bruises
      • Pinpoint red spots (petechiae)
  • Exams and Tests

    • Bleeding time
    • Platelet aggregation test
    • Platelet count
    • PT and PTT
  • Treatment

    Treatment is aimed at the cause of the problem.

    • Bone marrow disorders are treated with platelet transfusions or removing platelets from the blood (platelet pheresis). Chemotherapy is can used to treat an underlying condition that is causing the problem.
    • Platelet function defects caused by kidney failure are treated with dialysis or a drug called desmopressin (ddAVP).
    • Platelet problems caused by a certain medicine are treated by stopping the drug.
  • Outlook (Prognosis)

    Most of the time, treating the cause of the problem corrects the defect.

  • Possible Complications

    • Prolonged bleeding
    • Severe anemia
  • 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
  • Prevention

    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.

Related Information

  Platelet countPolycythemia vera...Thrombocytopenia...Chronic myelogenou...MyelofibrosisAcute kidney failu...Multiple myeloma...Anemia     Anemia


Diz-Kucukkaya R, Lopez JA, Acquired disorders of platelet function. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, Heslop HE, Weitz JI, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 132.

Ragni MV. Hemorrhagic Disorders: Coagulation Factor Deficiencies. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 177.


Review Date: 3/3/2013  

Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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