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Kidney Int. 2012 Jul;82(2):147-57. doi: 10.1038/ki.2012.130. Epub 2012 May 16.

Hemodialysis effect on platelet count and function and hemodialysis-associated thrombocytopenia.

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Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Substantial activation of platelets can occur in the course of hemodialysis. Platelet surface markers show evidence of platelet degranulation. Some activation occurs due to exposure of blood to the roller pump segment and microbubbles may play a role. Platelet activation seems to be reduced with reused dialyzers or with those containing synthetic versus cellulosic membranes. Nevertheless, a substantial degree of platelet activation can be demonstrated with polysulfone and other synthetic membranes; the amount of activation may differ substantially among polysulfone membranes, depending on the manufacturer and the polyvinylpyrrolidone content. Platelet-platelet and platelet-leukocyte aggregates have been detected in the dialyzer blood outflow line and the consequences of these to the microcirculation are unknown. Typically, the platelet count decreases slightly during the first hour of dialysis, but mostly returns to initial values by the end of dialysis. A number of chronic hemodialysis patient cases have been reported in which a marked decrease in platelet count (50% or more) during dialysis was observed, resulting in mild degrees of predialysis thrombocytopenia. In only one case was the decrease in platelet count associated with bleeding. Dialyzer hypersensitivity symptoms are infrequently associated with a fall in platelet count. Most recent cases of dialysis-associated thrombocytopenia have been with polysulfone membranes, especially polysulfone membranes sterilized by electron beam. The exact cause of these reactions remains unknown.

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