Why has my hospitalized patient with head and neck cancer developed thrombocytosis few days following surgery?

Thrombocytosis or elevated platelet count is not uncommon among hospitalized patients and may be related to several factors, including “tissue damage” from a surgical procedure, infection, acute blood loss, iron deficiency, and less well known, enoxaparin.1-4 

Postoperative thrombocytosis is thought to be related to increased platelet production as well as redistribution of platelets from the splenic platelet pool to the general circulation.1  Increased levels of megakaryocytic growth factors such as thrombopoietin, and pro-or anti-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-1, 3, 6, or 11 may also stimulate megakaryopoeisis in the setting of inflammation.2 The mechanism of iron deficiency causing thrombocytosis is unknown.4

Enoxaparin-related thrombocytosis usually develops within the first 2 weeks of therapy and resolves 2 weeks following its discontinuation.3

In our patient, although malignancy is also associated with secondary thrombocytosis, given its acute nature in our patient, it is less likely to be playing a role.

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  1. Griesshammer M, Bangerter M, Sauer T, et al. Aetiology and clinical significance of thrombocytosis: analysis of 732 patients with an elevated platelet count. J Intern Med 1999;245:295-300. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10205592
  2. Kulnigg-Dabsch S, Schmid W, Howaldt S, et al. Iron deficiency generates secondary thrombocytosis and platelet activation in IBD: the randomized, controlled thromboVIT trial. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2013;published online, DOI10.1097/MIB.0b013e318281f4db. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23644823
  3. Hummel MC, Morse BC, Hayes LE. Reactive thrombocytosis associated with enoxaparin. Pharmacotherapy 2006;26:1667-1670. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17064215
  4. Dan K. Thrombocytosis in iron deficiency anemia. Intern Med 2005;44: 1025-6. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/internalmedicine/44/10/44_10_1025/_pdf


Why has my hospitalized patient with head and neck cancer developed thrombocytosis few days following surgery?

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