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Transfusion. 1995 Jun;35(6):498-502.

Prophylactic versus therapeutic platelet transfusion practices in hematology and/or oncology patients.

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University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, USA.



Platelet utilization has steadily increased throughout the past three decades. At the same time, there has been very little study of the current transfusion practices.


A survey was conducted of institutional members of the American Association of Blood Banks (hospitals) that were actively involved in the care of pediatric and/or adult hematology and/or oncology patients. Inquiries were made relating to the extent of prophylactic versus therapeutic use of platelets, criteria used for prophylactic transfusion of platelets and type, and dose of platelets used. Data were analyzed according to patient age and type of hospital.


Of 786 responding hospitals, 630 (80.2%) provided sufficient data for analysis; 126 of that 630 provided care for pediatric patients. The majority (60.9%) of responding hospitals had a minimum of four hematologists and/or oncologists. Eighty-four percent of hospitals reported transfusing some apheresis platelets. The dose of platelet concentrates most frequently used for adults ranged from 6 to 10, with pools of 10 more commonly used in community hospitals. More than 70 percent of hospitals reported transfusing platelets primarily for prophylaxis: 60 percent of hospitals set the threshold platelet count for prophylactic platelet transfusion at 20,000 per microL, with approximately 20 percent each transfusing at higher and lower levels. A platelet count of 50,000 per microL was most frequently required for performance of a minor invasive procedure.


The data from this study show that the majority of institutions use prophylactic platelet transfusion in both pediatric and adult hematology and/or oncology patients. However, there is considerable variation in platelet transfusion practice.

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