Thrombocytopenia (or -paenia, or thrombopenia in short) is the presence of relatively few platelets in blood. Generally speaking, in humans, a normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 and 450,000 per mm3.These limits, however, are determined by the 2.5th lower and upper percentile, and a deviation does not necessarily imply any form of disease. The number of platelets in a blood sample also decreases rather quickly with time and a low platelet count may be caused by a delay between sampling and analysis.
Often, low platelet levels do not lead to clinical problems; rather, they are picked up on a routine full blood count (or CBC, complete blood count). Occasionally, there may be bruising, particularly purpura in the forearms, nosebleeds and/or bleeding gums. It is vital that a full medical history is elicited, to ensure the low platelet count is not due to a secondary process. It is also important to ensure that the other blood cell types red blood cells, and white blood cells, are not also suppressed.
Laboratory tests might include: full blood count, liver enzymes, renal function, vitamin B12 levels, folic acid levels, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and peripheral blood smear. If the cause for the low platelet count remains unclear, bone marrow biopsy is often undertaken, to differentiate whether the low platelet count is due to decreased production or peripheral destruction
Treatment is guided by etiology and disease severity. The main concept in treating thrombocytopenia is to eliminate the underlying problem, whether that means discontinuing suspected drugs that cause thrombocytopenia, or treating underlying sepsis. Diagnosis and treatment of serious thrombocytopenia is usually directed by a hematologist. Specific treatment plans often depend on the underlying etiology of the thrombocytopenia.  Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) Treatment of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura is a medical emergency, since the hemolytic anemia and platelet activation can lead to renal failure and changes in the level of consciousness. Treatment of TTP was revolutionized in the 1980s with the application of plasmapheresis. According to the Furlan-Tsai hypothesis   , this treatment theoretically works by removing antibodies directed against the von Willebrand factor cleaving protease, ADAMTS-13. The plasmapheresis procedure also adds active ADAMTS-13 protease proteins to the patient, restoring a more physiological state of von Willebrand factor multimers. Patients with persistent antibodies against ADAMTS-13 do not always manifest TTP, and these antibodies alone are not sufficient to explain the how plasmapheresis treats TTP.  Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) Main article: Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura Many cases of ITP can be left untreated, and spontaneous remission (especially in children) is not uncommon. However, counts of under 50,000 are usually monitored with regular blood tests, and those with counts of under 10,000 are usually treated, as the risk of serious spontaneous bleeding is high with a platelet count this low. Any patient experiencing severe bleeding symptoms is also usually treated. The threshold for treating ITP has decreased since the 1990s, and hematologists recognize that patients rarely spontaneously bleed with platelet counts greater than 10,000—though there are documented exceptions to this observation. Treatments for ITP include: * Prednisone and other corticosteroids * Intravenous immune globulin * Splenectomy * Danazol * Rituximab * Romiplostim Thrombopoetin analogues have been tested extensively for the treatment of ITP. These agents had previously shown promise but had been found to stimulate antibodies against endogenous thrombopoeitin or lead to thrombosis. Romiplostim (trade name Nplate, formerly AMG 531) was found to be safe and effective for the treatment of ITP in refractory patients, especially those who relapsed following splenectomy. Romiplostim is a peptide that bears no sequence homology with endogenous human thrombopoeitin, so it is not as likely to lead to neutralizing antibodies as previous peptide thrombopoeitin analogues.