Thrombocytopenia, whether symptomatic or not, is a relatively common finding in clinical medicine. The causes of thrombocytopenia are many, and all of these may be found at all ages. However, just as the frequencies of these causes vary between pediatric and adult age-groups, so too is there variation between younger adults and older individuals. Also, the pathophysiological approach to thrombocytopenia (decreased production, increased destruction, sequestration, dilution) remains just as valid to the seasoned hematologist as to the neophyte. In this article, we provide a suggested approach to the patient with thrombocytopenia, with emphasis on the more common causes in older adults.
Key words: thrombocytopenia, platelets, bleeding disorders, primary hemostasis, older adults.