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Low-Dose Platelet Transfusions Deemed Safe
Date:2/17/2010

Study finds no bleeding risk in practice that could stretch limited supplies,,,,

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- A lower dose of platelets than is commonly used is safe for people who require transfusions of the clot-forming blood cells, a new study shows.

That's good news for people getting chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants because platelets are often in short supply, said Dr. Victor M. Aquino, a member of the research team whose findings are reported in the Feb. 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Frequent platelet transfusions -- once or even twice a day -- are needed for such patients because "chemotherapy damages the bone marrow and causes the body not to produce platelets," said Aquino, an associate professor in the pediatric hematology-oncology division at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center. "They need to be replaced to prevent bleeding."

The study included 1,272 people who had at least one platelet transfusion. They were divided into three groups, depending on the number of platelets in each transfusion. The high-dose group got the usual amount, roughly 10 trillion cells, and the low-dose group got half that number.

The researchers observed no significant difference in the amount of bleeding among the three groups, the report said.

"You can safely transfuse patients with about one-third the dosage of platelets we normally use," Aquino said.

More frequent transfusions were required for the low-dose group, "but you use fewer platelets in the long run," he said.

Another major finding was that it's safe to allow the blood platelet count to go lower than what is now regarded as the danger point, said study author Dr. Sherrill J. Slichter, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington and director of platelet transfusion research at the Puget Sound Blood Center.

Platelet transfusions are commonly given when
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