Clinical and laboratory assessment of a patient with thrombocytosis

Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2017 Oct 2;78(10):558-564. doi: 10.12968/hmed.2017.78.10.558.


Elevated platelet counts are frequently encountered in hospital medicine and arise from both physiological and pathological mechanisms. Thrombocytosis may be secondary, reflecting an inflammatory state, iron deficiency, recent surgery or point towards an underlying neoplasm. Thrombocytosis may be the presenting sign of solid tumours and haematological conditions. The discovery of the activating mutations affecting thrombopoiesis led to greater understanding of the pathobiology of essential thrombocythaemia and other myeloproliferative neoplasms. The investigation of suspected primary thrombocytosis has evolved to include testing for these disease-associated mutations. Therapy for patients with essential thrombocythaemia aims to reduce their risk of thrombotic complications by addressing cardiovascular risk factors, and using antiplatelet agents and, in selected patients, cytoreductive therapy. This article provides a logical approach to distinguishing reactive or secondary thrombocytosis from thrombocytosis associated with an underlying myeloproliferative neoplasm and gives an overview of the management of essential thrombocythaemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / physiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Management*
  • Humans
  • Myeloproliferative Disorders / blood
  • Myeloproliferative Disorders / complications*
  • Platelet Count
  • Risk Factors
  • Thrombocytosis* / blood
  • Thrombocytosis* / diagnosis
  • Thrombocytosis* / etiology