Thrombocytapheresis: The Platelet-Reducing Procedure for Essential Thrombocythemia


Essential thrombocytosis (ET) is a chronic blood disorder characterized by an abnormally high platelet count. This can increase the risk of both thrombosis (blood clots) and hemorrhage (bleeding). Thrombocytapheresıs is a procedure that removes platelets from the blood, and it is sometimes used to treat ET patients who are experiencing acute thrombotic or hemorrhagic events.

What is thrombocytapheresis?
Thrombocytapheresis is similar to blood donation, but it specifically removes platelets from the blood. The procedure takes about 2-3 hours and is usually done on an outpatient basis. During the procedure, blood is drawn from one arm, passed through a machine that separates the platelets from the other blood components, and then the remaining blood is returned to the patient’s other arm.

Who should get thrombocytapheresis?

Thrombocytapheresis is usually recommended for ET patients who have:
•    Acute, severe thrombotic or hemorrhagic events
•    Platelet counts that are consistently over 1,000,000 per microliter
•    Symptoms related to their high platelet count, such as headache, dizziness, or vision changes

What are the benefits of thrombocytapheresis?

Thrombocytapheresis can quickly reduce the platelet count and lower the risk of blood clots and bleeding. It can also improve symptoms related to a high platelet count.

What are the risks of thrombocytapheresis?

Thrombocytapheresis is a safe procedure, but there are some potential risks, including:
•    Bruising at the needle insertion site
•    Fatigue
•    Lightheadedness
•    Infection
What to expect after thrombocytapheresis
Most people feel fine after thrombocytapheresis and can go home the same day. You may have some bruising at the needle insertion site, which should go away within a few days. You may also feel tired or lightheaded for a short time.

Thrombocytapheresis is a safe and effective treatment for ET patients who are at high risk of blood clots or bleeding. It can quickly reduce the platelet count and improve symptoms. If you are an ET patient with a high platelet count, talk to your doctor about whether thrombocytapheresis is right for you.

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