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All About Bleeding

Platelet Dysfunction

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A range of laboratory investigations aid diagnosis of platelet dysfunction:

  • A blood smear can be enough to diagnose some platelet disorders or exclude rarer disorders associated with characteristic-looking platelets. 25
  • Bleeding time is assessed by making a small incision on the patient's forearm and measuring the time taken for bleeding to stop. Prolonged bleeding time suggests some form of platelet dysfunction, including von Willebrand disease (VWD) or thrombocytopenia. The test’s reliability can be compromised due to operator experience, cold exposure, vigorous exercise, anxiety, direction of incision or excessive wiping of the skin.26
  • The platelet function analyzer is an automated screening test that can detect severe platelet dysfunction and VWD. However, this test may not detect milder cases of platelet dysfunction and certain sub-types of VWD.26
  • Platelet aggregation testing measures the optical density of blood after the addition of chemicals that promote platelet aggregation. Blood becomes more transparent following platelet aggregation, and the pattern of aggregation can help distinguish disorders of platelet function.25-26
  • Electron microscopy may help diagnose some disorders not detected using techniques previously covered.26

Last Updated: 11/4/2012 11:27 AM
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