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decrease in number of platelets in circulating blood; it can result from decreased or defective platelet production or from accelerated platelet destruction. Conditions related to defective production include hypoplastic or aplastic anemia, infiltration of bone marrow by malignant cells or myelofibrosis, viral infections, nutritional deficiency, and thrombocytopenic purpura. Increased destruction of platelets can be caused by infections, certain drugs, transfusion-related purpuras, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, and disseminated intravascular coagulation. adj., adj thrombocytope´nic.
Patient Care. A major concern is prevention of excessive bleeding from trauma to the mucous membranes, skin, and underlying tissues. All injection and puncture sites, whether from intramuscular, subcutaneous, or intravenous administrations or from bone marrow aspiration and other tests, are carefully monitored for signs of bleeding. These procedures should be coordinated and scheduled so that the number of times the skin is broken is kept to an absolute minimum. If, after withdrawal of a needle or catheter, there is evidence that normal clotting is not taking place, pressure is applied immediately and maintained for 10 to 15 minutes.

Because of the potential for trauma to the rectal mucosa, body temperature should not be taken rectally. Blood pressure cuffs, tourniquets for venipuncture, and similar devices must be used with caution. Hence all persons involved with direct patient care should be apprised of the need for special precautions. When used, antiembolic stockings must be thigh-high, never knee-high.

Patients with a chronic deficit of platelets will need instruction in self-care to avoid inadvertent trauma and irritation. For example, to protect the oral mucosa, a soft toothbrush must be used; dental floss, toothpicks, and other items likely to irritate or cause a break in the mucosa should be avoided. Patients are taught to keep their lips and nasal membranes soft and moist, possibly with KY jelly or some other water-soluble lubricant. An oral intake of fluids above the usual maintenance level is encouraged.

To protect the gastrointestinal mucosa, patients are warned to avoid constipation, extremely rough and hard-to-digest foods such as peanuts and popcorn, and aspirin, steroids, and other drugs known to be irritants. Aspirin, in addition to causing gastrointestinal irritation, also interferes with platelet function.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


A condition in which an abnormally small number of platelets is present in the circulating blood.
Synonym(s): thrombopenia
[thrombocyte + G. penia, poverty]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


A condition in which there is a decreased number of platelets in the circulating blood.
Synonym(s): thrombopenia.
[thrombocyte + G. penia, poverty]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012
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