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Thrombocytopenia (Low Platelet Count) (cont.)

3. Splenic sequestration

Splenic sequestration occurs when the spleen enlarges(for example, due to cirrhosis of the liver or certain types of leukemia) and captures, or sequesters, more platelets from the circulation than normal. This could lead to thrombocytopenia.

In infants, many conditions similar to these listed above can lead to neonatal thrombocytopenia. There are also some rare genetic conditions that can also lead to thrombocytopenia in children at birth.

Pseudothrombocytopenia is term given to situations in which there is a falsely low platelet count on the blood smear reviewed by the laboratory. This can happen because of occasional clumping of the platelets together when the blood is drawn. Therefore, small number of individual platelets may be seen under the microscope, and this can be confused with true thrombocytopenia. A repeat blood draw, preferably in a tube which prevents clumping, typically solves this issue.

Dilutional thrombocytopenia is another condition that may be seen when several units of red blood cells have been transfused in a short period time. As the volume of blood expands, platelets may appear more scarce as they are distributed in a larger volume.

When to seek medical care for thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)

Thrombocytopenia is usually detected incidentally on routine blood work done for another purpose. The doctor ordering the test can determine how severe the condition may be and how urgently further investigation needs to be done.

Thrombocytopenia is typically evaluated by internal medicine doctors (internists), family physicians, or blood disorder specialists (hematologists).

Which specialties of doctors treat thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)?

Thrombocytopenia may be identified during blood work ordered by a primary care provider, including internists, pediatricians, and family medicine specialists. Hematologists are specialists in blood disorders, and they may be called upon to treat patients with thrombocytopenia. Patients with thrombocytopenia due to an underlying disease or condition will also be managed by the specialists that treat these underlying conditions, including infectious disease specialists, rheumatologists, oncologists, and others.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/13/2016

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