Thrombocytopenia in medical-surgical critically ill patients: prevalence, incidence, and risk factors
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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to describe the prevalence, to analyze the incidence and independent risk factors for thrombocytopenia, and to examine the impact of thrombocytopenia developing in the intensive care unit (ICU) on patient outcome in a well-defined cohort of critically ill patients in a medical-surgical ICU. MATERIALS AND METHODS: As part of a prospective cohort study examining the frequency and clinical importance of venous thromboembolism in the ICU, we enrolled consecutive patients older than 18 years expected to be in the ICU for more than 72 hours. Exclusion criteria were an admitting diagnosis of trauma, orthopedic surgery or cardiac surgery, pregnancy, and life support withdrawal. Patients had platelet counts performed as directed by clinical need. We defined thrombocytopenia as a platelet count of less than 150 x 10(9)/L and severe thrombocytopenia as a platelet count of less than 50 x 10(9)/L. Protocol-directed care included routine thromboprophylaxis and twice weekly screening ultrasonography of the legs. Patients were followed to hospital discharge. RESULTS: Of the 261 enrolled patients, 121 (46%, 95% confidence interval [CI], 40%-53%) had thrombocytopenia (62 on ICU admission and 59 acquired during their ICU stay). Patients who developed a platelet count less than 150 x 10(9)/L during their ICU stay had higher ICU and hospital mortality (P = .03 and .005, respectively), required longer mechanical ventilation (P = .05), and were more likely to receive platelets (P < .001), fresh frozen plasma (P = .005), and red blood cell transfusions (P = .004) than patients who did not develop thrombocytopenia. The only independent risk factors for thrombocytopenia developing during the ICU stay were administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs before ICU admission (hazard ratio, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.3-6.0) and dialysis during the ICU stay (hazard ratio, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.2-7.8). Of the 33 patients who underwent 36 tests for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, none tested positive. CONCLUSIONS: We found that about 50% of the patients admitted to the ICU had at least one platelet count of less than 150 x 10(9)/L during their ICU stay. Patients who developed thrombocytopenia were more likely to die, required longer duration of mechanical ventilation, and were more likely to require blood product transfusion. Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia was frequently suspected but did not develop in these critically ill patients.
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