Condition 101 About Drug-Induced Thrombocytopenia

What is the definition of Drug-Induced Thrombocytopenia?

Thrombocytopenia is any disorder in which there are not enough platelets. Platelets are cells in the blood that help the blood clot. A low platelet count makes bleeding more likely.

When medicines or drugs are the causes of a low platelet count, it is called drug-induced thrombocytopenia.

What are the alternative names for Drug-Induced Thrombocytopenia?

Drug-induced thrombocytopenia; Immune thrombocytopenia - drug

What are the causes for Drug-Induced Thrombocytopenia?

Drug-induced thrombocytopenia occurs when certain medicines destroy platelets or interfere with the body's ability to make enough of them.

There are two types of drug-induced thrombocytopenia: immune and nonimmune.

If a medicine causes your body to produce antibodies, which seek and destroy your platelets, the condition is called drug-induced immune thrombocytopenia. Heparin, a blood thinner, is the most common cause of drug-induced immune thrombocytopenia.

If a medicine prevents your bone marrow from making enough platelets, the condition is called drug-induced nonimmune thrombocytopenia. Chemotherapy drugs and a seizure medicine called valproic acid may lead to this problem.

Other medicines that cause drug-induced thrombocytopenia include:

  • Furosemide
  • Gold, used to treat arthritis
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Penicillin
  • Quinidine
  • Quinine
  • Ranitidine
  • Sulfonamides
  • Linezolid and other antibiotics
  • Statins

What are the symptoms for Drug-Induced Thrombocytopenia?

Decreased platelets may cause:

  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Bleeding when you brush your teeth
  • Easy bruising
  • Pinpoint red spots on the skin (petechiae)

What are the current treatments for Drug-Induced Thrombocytopenia?

The first step is to stop using the medicine that is causing the problem.

For people who have life-threatening bleeding, treatments may include:

  • Immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG) given through a vein
  • Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis)
  • Platelet transfusions
  • Corticosteroid medicine

What are the possible complications for Drug-Induced Thrombocytopenia?

Bleeding can be life threatening if it occurs in the brain or other organs.

A pregnant woman who has antibodies to platelets may pass the antibodies to the baby in the womb.

When should I contact a medical professional for Drug-Induced Thrombocytopenia?

Call your healthcare provider if you have unexplained bleeding or bruising and are taking medicines, such as the ones mentioned above under Causes.

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REFERENCES

Abrams CS. Thrombocytopenia. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 172.

Warkentin TE. Thrombocytopenia caused by platelet destruction, hypersplenism, or hemodilution. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 132.

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