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Piperacillin and vancomycin induced severe thrombocytopenia in a hospitalized patient.

Author(s): Anand A, Chauhan HK

Affiliation(s): Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA.

Publication date & source: 2011, Platelets., 22(4):294-301. Epub 2011 Feb 10.

Publication type: Case Reports

In hospitalized patients with complex medical problems on numerous drugs, thrombocytopenia may have a multiple confounding etiology. Keeping this in mind, it is of utmost importance to monitor the platelet count regularly during hospitalization and on subsequent follow-up visits, even after the most probable etiology has been identified/most likely causative drug has been withdrawn. Isolated thrombocytopenia with no evidence of microangiopathic hemolysis on the peripheral blood smear in an acutely ill hospitalized patient implicated sepsis, disseminated intravascular coagulation and drugs as the most probable causes. Our patient represents an uncommon case of antibiotic-induced severe immune thrombocytopenia, as he developed both vancomycin-dependent and piperacillin-dependent antibodies, while being treated for cellulitis (vancomycin-specific antibodies of the IgG isotype, and both IgG and IgM antibodies specific for piperacillin were identified in laboratory testing). Vancomycin was stopped before the reports were available. Following this, the patient's platelet count showed a transient upward trend, but then the thrombocytopenia worsened drastically reaching a nadir of 10,000/microL. The platelet count returned to normal only after piperacillin/tazobactam was stopped after a week, thus establishing it as the cause of the more severe thrombocytopenia, which occurred later on; this was subsequently confirmed by the laboratory results. Vancomycin is an established cause of drug-induced immune thrombocytopenias, especially in acutely ill, hospitalized or elderly patients, whereas incidents of piperacillin/tazobactam-induced immune thrombocytopenia are uncommon. In case clinical suspicion is high, workup should include immunoprecipitation and flow cytometry studies to confirm antiplatelet antibodies.

Page last updated: 2011-12-09

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