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Diagnosis of platelet function disorders

Is diagnosing a platelet function disorder simple?

No, diagnosing a platelet function disorder is not simple. A person who thinks he/she has a bleeding problem should see a hematologist who specializes in bleeding disorders at a hemophilia/bleeding disorder treatment centre.

Symptoms of a platelet function disorder are similar to other bleeding disorders such as von Willebrand disease. Because of this and the fact that there are many different types of platelet function disorders, a doctor will perform a number of tests to find out the exact problem.

What tests are used to diagnose a platelet function disorder?

A doctor who suspects a platelet function disorder in a patient will take a complete family history. He/she will then do a number of blood tests to find out:

  • if the person has a platelet function disorder
  • what type of platelet function disorder the person has.


The tests are: 
 

Bleeding timeThis measures the length of time it takes for a simple cut to stop bleeding.
Platelet aggregation studiesThese measure if there are abnormalities in the way platelets clump together.
Von Willebrand Factor studiesThese find out if the Von Willebrand Factor protein is working normally and rule out this similar disorder as the cause of the bleeding.
Specialized testsThese determine the exact type of platelet function disorder.

How long does it take to get a diagnosis?

Some of the tests must be done in a specialized laboratory. Therefore, it may be several weeks before test results come back.