UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Critical Care

Title: Thrombocytopenia in the Critically-ill

Keywords: thrombocytopenia, critically0ill, sepsis, death, mortality, prognosis (PubMed Search)

Posted: 12/21/2010 by Haney Mallemat, MD
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The incidence and prevalence of thrombocytopenia in the ICU is poorly defined however, it has been found to be an independent predictor of death in the critically-ill. Increased mortality does not appear to be related to bleeding complications. On the other hand, survivors of critical illness tend to recover platelet faster as compared to non-survivors. 


Thrombocytopenia in the critically-ill is a marker for systemic inflammation/infection although the exact mechanisms are unknown. Common risk factors associated with thrombocytopenia in the ICU population are:



Renal failure

High-illness severity

Organ dysfunction


Bottom line:  Thrombocytopenia in the critically-ill is associated with increased mortality. 



Hui, P., The Frequency and Clinical Significance of Thrombocytopenia Complicating Critical Illness: A Systematic Review. Chest. 2010 Nov 11. [Epub ahead of print]