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What is a Platelet Count test?

A platelet count test is used to determine the number of platelets in blood. Platelets, also referred to as thrombocytes, are tiny and important blood cells involved in blood clotting and wound healing. In case of wounds, platelets control bleeding by adhering to the site of injury, forming clumps with other platelets and releasing chemicals that further promote the aggregation and clumping of platelets.

Platelets are produced in the bone marrow along with red blood cells and white blood cells. Bone marrow is the spongy centre inside bones. The life of platelets in the blood is about 8-10 days, and it is continually produced in a healthy individual to maintain normal levels. Platelet count is useful in diagnosing numerous disorders, which lead to reduced or increased levels of platelets.

  1. प्लेटलेट्स गिनती क्या है? - What is Platelet Count in Hindi?
  2. प्लेटलेट्स गिनती क्यों किया जाता है - What is the purpose of Platelet Count in Hindi
  3. What do Platelet Count test results indicate?
  4. How is Platelet Count test performed?
  5. How do you prepare for Platelet Count test?
  6. Why is a Platelet Count performed?
  7. प्लेटलेट्स गिनती के परिणाम का क्या मतलब होता है - What do the results of Platelet Count mean in Hindi
  8. प्लेटलेट्स गिनती कब करवाना चाहिए - When to get tested with Platelet Count in Hindi

Normal results: In a healthy individual, normal platelet count is 1,50,000-4,50,000 per microlitre of the blood. Platelet count less or more than the normal range is an indication of an underlying condition, which needs to be diagnosed and treated.

Abnormal results:

  • A higher than normal platelet count indicates thrombocythemia, in which, the bone marrow produces excess platelets, and the platelet count is more than one million. It may lead to increased formation of blood clots, which interferes with the blood supply to vital organs of the body such as brain and heart. The underlying cause of this condition is not yet known.
  • Thrombocytosis is another medical condition that occurs due to excessive platelets, but here the platelet count is not as high as thrombocythemia. It does not involve an abnormal bone marrow. Thrombocytosis is caused due to inflammation, infections, cancer and certain medicines.
  • A lower than normal platelet count indicates thrombocytopenia, in which, the bone marrow produces fewer than normal platelets or platelet destruction in body. The underlying medical conditions causing thrombocytopenia include kidney disease, infections, pregnancy, cancer and defects in the immune system. Some medicines can also lead to thrombocytopenia.

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. This information is purely from an educational perspective and is in no way a substitute for medical advice from a qualified doctor.

A blood sample is obtained from a vein in the arm or fingertip in children and adults. The heel stick method, pricking of the heel with a lancet, is used to withdraw blood from infants. Moderate pain is felt in the region where the needle is pricked. A throbbing sensation and slight bruising may be experienced after blood is collected.

Most often, no special preparation is needed before a platelet count test is performed.

However, it is important to keep the doctor informed about the following:

  • Childbirth, residence in higher altitude areas and excessive physical exertion
  • Oral contraceptives and oestrogen supplements
  • The date of menses as the platelet count reduces mildly just before menses
  • The duration of pregnancy as the platelet count reduces mildly at full term
  • Hereditary disorders due to genetic defects in the platelet, eg, Chediak-Higashi syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, Down syndrome, Glanzmann's Thrombasthenia, May-Hegglin syndrome and Bernard-Soulier disease.

All of these factors may affect platelet count, leading to incorrect interpretation of results.

Platelet count is generally a part of a complete blood count (CBC) test; it is done in routine health check-ups. A platelet count is of specific importance in conditions, such as bleeding disorders when the individual experiences uncontrolled or unexplained bleeding. Bleeding disorders are generally associated with a reduced platelet count. Platelet count is recommended and performed in individuals with the following symptoms:

  • Heavy bleeding in women during menstruation
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding detected in a stool test
  • Red spots on skin, which appear like rashes
  • Excessive and prolonged bleeding from a minor cut
  • Bleeding from the rectum, mouth or nose with no obvious injury
  • Heavy and uncontrolled bleeding from a small wound
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Purple spots on  skin surface due to bleeding under the skin

It is also performed in individuals with excessive clotting, which occurs due to a rise in platelet count.

References

  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Thrombocythemia and Thrombocytosis
  2. Pagana, Kathleen D., Pagana, Timothy J., and Pagana, Theresa N. (© 2015). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 12th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 718-720, 724.
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Platelet count
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Thrombocytopenia
  5. Hoffman, J.J. (2014). Reticulated platelets: analytical aspects and clinical utility. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2014; 52(8):1107-17.
  6. Keohane, E, Smith, L. and Walenga, J. (© 2016). Rodak's Hematology Clinical Principles and Applications 5th Edition: Elsevier Saunders, Saint Louis, MO. Pp 173.
  7. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; What Are Platelets?