Thrombocytopenia in intensive care unit patients: A scoping review

Andreas Bender Jonsson, Sofie Louise Rygård, Thomas Hildebrandt, Anders Perner, Morten Hylander Møller, Lene Russell

18 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Thrombocytopenia is frequent in intensive care unit (ICU) patients and may be associated with adverse outcomes. We aimed to assess the incidence, risk factors, and outcomes associated with thrombocytopenia in adult ICU patients.

METHODS: We conducted a scoping review in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-analyses extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) and the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. We included study reports on adult ICU patients with thrombocytopenia and assessed patient-important outcomes, including mortality and health-related quality-of-life.

RESULTS: We included a total of 70 studies comprising a total of 215 098 patients; 57 were cohort studies. The incidence of thrombocytopenia varied from 8 to 56 per 100 admissions (very low quality of evidence). We identified several risk factors including age, sepsis, and higher disease severity (low quality of evidence). Thrombocytopenia was associated with bleeding, use of life support, length of stay in the ICU, and increased mortality (low/very low quality of evidence). Data on platelet transfusion before invasive procedures and transfusion thresholds were limited. No studies assessed the benefits and harms of thromboprophylaxis in ICU patients with thrombocytopenia.

CONCLUSIONS: Thrombocytopenia is common and associated with increased morbidity and mortality in adult ICU patients. Several risk factors for thrombocytopenia exists, but the evidence-base on management strategies, including transfusion thresholds and thromboprophylaxis in ICU patients is very limited.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)2-14
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • critical care
  • intensive care
  • platelets
  • risk factors
  • scoping review
  • thrombocytopenia


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