Prevalence of thrombocytopenia among patients with chronic hepatitis C: a systematic review

J Viral Hepat. 2011 Jan;18(1):1-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2010.01366.x. Epub 2010 Aug 26.


Thrombocytopenia (TCP) is a haematological condition known to occur in chronically infected hepatitis C (HCV) patients and may interfere with diagnostic procedures, such as liver biopsy, because of risk of bleeding. It may also exclude patients from effective antiviral treatment. We conducted a systematic literature review of articles and conference abstracts, to assess the prevalence of TCP among those with HCV and to describe demographics, liver disease stage and treatment characteristics of these patients. Studies of individuals with confirmed chronic HCV infection were included in the review if the study had a clear definition of thrombocytopenia and a sample size of at least 50 subjects. The final selection included 27 studies (21 articles and six abstracts). The definitions of thrombocytopenia varied between studies and were based either on platelet counts, with threshold levels ranging between ≤ 100 × 10(9) and ≤ 180 × 10(9) /L, or on criteria set in haematological guidelines. The prevalence of TCP ranged from 0.16% to 45.4% and more than half of the studies reported a TCP prevalence of 24% or more. Because of the different TCP definitions, heterogeneity in study design and insufficient data on study characteristics such as age, gender, HCV treatment rates and disease severity an overall summary estimate of TCP prevalence among patients with HCV was not feasible. However, the relatively large prevalence in the majority of the studies suggests that there may be a substantial number of HCV patients at risk of bleeding complications and reduced likelihood of successful HCV antiviral treatment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / drug effects
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / drug therapy
  • Liver Cirrhosis / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Thrombocytopenia / complications*
  • Thrombocytopenia / epidemiology*


  • Antiviral Agents