Platelet Count (PLT)

What are Platelets?

Platelets are small fragments of cells that are essential to normal blood coagulation. A platelet examination can be used to screen for or diagnose various disorders and conditions that can cause blood-clotting problems. The results of a platelet examination may indicate a bleeding disorder, bone marrow disease or excessive clotting disorder, to name a few examples.

When a blood vessel or tissue is injured and starts to bleed, platelets use coagulation to help stop the bleeding. This creates a clot at the opening of the wound. Platelets have to work well if coagulation is to work. If there are insufficient platelets, or if the platelets fail to work the way they should, a stable clot cannot be formed and the patient may be at increased risk of severe bleeding.

Platelets survive in the blood for around 8 to 10 days, and the bone marrow has to constantly form new platelets in order to replace the ones broken down, used up or lost through bleeding. Checking the number of platelets in the blood by means of a thrombocyte count can help to diagnose a range of different diseases.

Why do we analyse the Platelet Count?

Examining the platelet count is used to detect the number of platelets in the blood. A platelet examination is frequently carried out as part of a general health check. The test can be used for monitoring people with underlying diseases or who are undergoing treatment with medications known to affect platelets. It can also be used to monitor people who have received treatment for a platelet deficiency, in order to determine whether the therapy is effective.

High Platelet Count

Seen in chronic inflammatory processes, myeloproliferative syndrome, thrombocyte function defects, splenectomy.

Low Platelet Count

Seen in reduced bone marrow production in cases of aplastic anaemia, leukaemia, myelosuppressive substances, shortage of vitamin B and folate, and in cases of increased consumption of autoantibodies, infection, haemolytic states, SLE, splenomegaly, decimated intravascular coagulation (DIC). Thrombocyte aggregates in the EDTA tube can give a falsely low thrombocyte count.


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