After 3 years of testing my husband’s blood for low platelets, doctors discovered that chemicals in the purple blood collecting tube made my husband’s platelets clump together. Now they use one blue and one red tube for the blood test. His platelet count is still low, but they say he has pseudothrombocytopenia. He has never had any signs and symptoms and is really very healthy. What should he do or not do to help him in this situation? Any information will be appreciated. Thank you.
Thrombocytopenia is the medical term for having too few platelets (also called thrombocytes), a clotting agent in blood. Hematology expert Dr. James N. George, professor of medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, comments on pseudothrombocytopenia:
“Platelet clumping, a phenomenon that causes the patient’s platelet count to be falsely low, is unrelated to any illness or problem. The actual number of platelets is apparent when the blood is stained on a glass slide and examined with a microscope. The standard tube for collecting blood for a platelet count has a purple top. It contains a chemical that binds the blood’s calcium to prevent clotting. The chemical also changes the shape and surface contours of platelets.
People with platelet clumping have an antibody in their blood that recognizes these changes, binds to the platelets, and provokes clumping. The blue top tube prevents
clotting with a different chemical that has less effect on platelets. Often, but not always, using the blue tube prevents platelet clumping.
“It is important to know that platelet clumping in the blood collection tube is totally innocent. These platelet changes only occur in the tube — not in the person’s bloodstream. The only consequence of platelet clumping is that it may go unrecognized, and the platelet count mistakenly thought to be low. Platelet clumping occurs in about 1 in 1,000 individuals.”