Etiology of thrombocytosis in a general medicine population: analysis of 801 cases with emphasis on infectious causes

J Clin Med Res. 2012 Dec;4(6):415-23. doi: 10.4021/jocmr1125w. Epub 2012 Nov 11.


Background: The clinical importance of an elevated platelet count is often overlooked, particularly as a diagnostic clue to the presence of an underlying infection. We sought to better describe the relationship between thrombocytosis and inflammatory conditions, with a focus on infectious causes.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 801 sequential cases of thrombocytosis (platelet count > 500 × 10(9)/L) at a tertiary care hospital.

Results: Essential thrombocythemia was the most common cause of primary thrombocytosis, and these patients were more likely to have extreme (> 800 × 10(9)/L) and prolonged (> 1 month) thrombocytosis. Secondary thrombocytosis was more common than primary, with infectious causes accounting for nearly half the cases. Demographic factors associated with an infectious etiology included inpatient status, quadriplegia/paraplegia, an indwelling prosthesis, dementia and diabetes. Clinical and laboratory characteristics associated with an infectious cause of thrombocytosis included fever, tachycardia, weight loss, hypoalbuminemia, neutrophilia, leukocytosis and anemia. Patients with thrombocytosis secondary to infection had a more rapid normalization of platelet count, but higher risk of dying, than those with secondary, non-infectious causes.

Conclusions: Infection is a common cause of thrombocytosis and should be considered in patients with comorbidities that increase risk of infection and when clinical and/or laboratory data support an infectious etiology. Thrombocytosis may have prognostic implications as a clinical parameter.

Keywords: Elevated platelet count; Infection; Secondary thrombocytosis; Thrombocytosis.