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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 62-65  

Thrombocytopenia-associated multiple organ failure or severe haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count in a postpartum case

1 Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Al Jahra Hospital, Kuwait
2 Department of Haematology, Al Jahra Hospital, Kuwait

Date of Web Publication14-Mar-2013

Correspondence Address:
Manish Jagia
Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Al Jahra Hospital
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5049.108568

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Thrombocytopenia-associated multiple organ failure (TAMOF) is a thrombotic microangiopathic syndrome that includes thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, secondary thrombotic microangiopathy, and disseminated intravascular coagulation. We report a case of postpartum female who presented with TAMOF or severe Haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count (HELLP) which was managed with plasma exchange. This case report is to make clinicians aware that TAMOF, severe HELLP, and other differential diagnosis in a postpartum case have a thin differentiating line and plasma exchange can be considered as one of the management options.

Keywords: Plasma exchange, postpartum, severe haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes low platelet count, thrombocytopenia-associated multiple organ failure

How to cite this article:
Jagia M, Taqi S, Hanafi M, Aisha F. Thrombocytopenia-associated multiple organ failure or severe haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count in a postpartum case. Indian J Anaesth 2013;57:62-5

How to cite this URL:
Jagia M, Taqi S, Hanafi M, Aisha F. Thrombocytopenia-associated multiple organ failure or severe haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count in a postpartum case. Indian J Anaesth [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Aug 3];57:62-5. Available from: https://www.ijaweb.org/text.asp?2013/57/1/62/108568

   Introduction Top

Thrombocytopenia-associated multiple organ failure (TAMOF) is a thrombotic microangiopathic syndrome that includes thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), secondary thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). This condition develops in patients with immunodeficient conditions like infection, transplantation, radiation, chemotherapy, cardiopulmonary bypass or autoimmune diseases. [1] Here we report a case after obtaining consent from the patient, diagnosed to have TAMOF with strong differential diagnosis of HELLP syndrome and its successful management with plasma exchange.

   Case Report Top

A 36-year-old female was admitted to the casualty department from another hospital with complaints of abdominal pain, constipation and jaundice. She had a history of hypertension and pre-eclamptic toxaemia two days previously for which she underwent emergency lower segment caesarean section (LSCS) at 35 weeks' gestational age in the previous hospital and delivered triplets. Discharge summary from the previous hospital revealed that her liver function tests were normal and she had a normal platelet count on admission to that hospital but on discharge, elevated alanine amino transferase (ALT) 228.1 IU/L and aspartate amino transferase (AST) 604.2 IU/L with hyperbilirubinaemia (356.7 umol/L with conjugated 241.43 umol/L and unconjugated 115.27 umol/L) were present. On admission to our hospital, she had tachycardia with a heart rate of 140/minute, blood pressure 176/100 mmHg and peripheral oxygen saturation of 92% on 4 L/minute oxygen. On systemic examination, she was conscious and alert with no neurological deficits. Respiratory examination showed tachypnoea with decreased air entry in bilateral lower lung fields. Abdomen was tender, distended and tense. She had developed oliguria. Chest X-ray showed right-sided consolidation with pleural effusion confirmed by ultrasound. Computed tomography abdomen revealed massive intraperitoneal collection with thickened bowel loops. Her initial haematological investigations showed severe thrombocytopenia (platelets 20 × 10 9 /L) with haemoglobin of 10.2 g% and white blood cells 11.2 × 10 9 /L. Her coagulation profile was normal. Diagnostic ascites tapping showed 480/mm 3 white blood cells and rest of the analysis showed transudative picture. She was evaluated by a gynaecologist and surgeons, and bowel injury was suspected. The patient underwent exploratory laparotomy and 5.7 L of ascitic fluid were drained with findings of haemorrhagic liver parenchyma. There was no bowel, uterus or abdominal organ injury. She received 12 units of platelets intraoperatively. She was intubated and shifted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Postoperatively, her arterial blood gases on ventilator with inspired oxygen concentration (FiO 2 ) 0.6 showed metabolic acidosis (pH 7.17, pCO2 5.1, pO2 8.4, HCO3 13.9, BE −13.8). Cultures of urine, sputum and blood that were sent for septic screening before starting antibiotics, turned out to be negative. Hepatitis viral markers and HIV were found negative. Peripheral smear showed fragmented red cells, anaemia with dimorphic cells, some polychromatic cells with burr cells, thrombocytopenia and leucocytosis with absolute neutrophilia, suggestive of microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia. Her investigations postoperatively also showed hyperbilirubinaemia, elevated liver enzymes, hypoalbuminaemia and thrombocytopenia. To rule out autoimmune disorders, antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) and antineutrophilic cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCAs) were tested and found to be negative. Plasmapheresis was initiated 30 hours after presentation at the hospital. Plasmapheresis was done eight times for over two hours in a nine-day period and haemodialysis was done four times [Table 1].
Table 1: Plasmaphersis and haemodialysis

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She received five units of packed red cells on the second day and once on the sixth day of admission to the ICU. Thrombocytopenia, liver function tests, renal function and lung condition improved over 10 days [Table 2].
Table 2: Blood investigations

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The patient was kept intubated due to right-side pneumonia with synpneumonic effusion and she was successfully extubated on the 11 th day of admission. Urine output of the patient increased to 2.5 L/day by the 13 th day and increased thereafter. She was shifted to the ward on the 15 th day and discharged home on the 25 th day.

   Discussion Top

Differential diagnosis in pregnant females or post delivery with multiorgan failure like in our case can be HELLP (haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count) syndrome. TTP-haemolytic uremic syndrome (TTP-HUS), sepsis, DIC or TAMOF.

HELLP syndrome occurs in 0.5 to 0.9% of all pregnancies, 10-20% cases with pre-eclampsia and occurs post partum in 30% of cases. [1] It is characterized by haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet counts (lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) ≥600 IU/L, AST ≥70 IU/L, platelets ≤100·10 9 /L]. [2] As reviewed by Haram et al., [1] HELLP syndrome is associated with complications of renal failure, pulmonary oedema and DIC. Plasma exchange is one of the multiorgan support therapies which shows favourable outcome in patients with severe HELLP syndrome not responding to conventional treatment. [3],[4] The exact mechanism of the effect of plasma exchange in HELLP syndrome is not known, but in general, plasma exchange removes plasma factors and substitutes new elements by refreshing the patient's own plasma.

Septicaemia is also probable in postoperative cases. It can present with thrombocytopenia, multiorgan failure and DIC. The usual presentation of fever, leucocytosis or leucopenia, negative cultures and unremarkable laparotomy excluded a source of infection in our case. Ono et al. has reported an association of severe deficiency of ADAMTS 13 (ADAMTS 13: A disintegrin and metalloproteinase with a thrombospondin type 1 motif, member 13) in sepsis-induced DIC with the development of renal failure. [5] Plasma exchange has been used as adjunct therapy in severe sepsis with reduction in mortality. [6] Plasma exchange is believed to replace cytokines and other inflammatory mediators with fresh plasma. Combination of plasma filtration with dialysis was successfully employed for the treatment of septic shock. [7] TAMOF includes TTP, DIC and secondary TMA. [8] TMAs include TTP, HUS, autoimmune disorders, malignant hypertension and drugs. Von Willebrand factor cleaving protease ADAMTS-13, found to be deficient in TTP, has helped separate it from HUS which is caused by direct endothelial damage by bacterial toxins, whereas in familial cases, inappropriate complement activation through deficient factor H appears to be a major mechanism. [9] Deficiency of ADAMTS-13 is caused by genetic defects or by autoantibodies against it. Marked haemolysis can also inhibit ADAMTS-13. [10] The presence of schistocytes in peripheral blood smear, raised LDH and low haptoglobin levels in our case was consistent with haemolysis. Plasma exchange in TAMOF is superior to plasma transfusion alone as it helps in the restoration of ADAMTS13 and removal of ADAMTS13 inhibitors. [11] DIC is a component of TAMOF; it was diagnosed by DIC scoring which includes elevated prothrombin time (PT) and activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT), low platelets, low fibrinogen levels, and elevated fibrin degradation products. [12] Plasma exchange has also been found beneficial in DIC alone due to cytomegalovirus [13] and meningococcal sepsis. [14] Plasma exchange increases the activity of ADAMTS 13 and reverses multiorgan dysfunction. [15] Acute renal failure in such cases is due to microangiopathy and DIC.

There is a thin line which differentiates TAMOF from severe HELLP. High levels of high-molecular weight von Willebrand factor in maternal serum reflect the virtual absence of the metalloprotease ADAMTS13 enzyme which is required to control the level of the factor. Specific tests for this hereditary condition are not available in our clinical laboratory. In our case, due to normal liver enzymes [Table 2] and abnormal peripheral smear with sudden onset of multiorgan failure, we considered it as a microangiopathic state and initiated plasmapharesis.

   Conclusion Top

TAMOF and severe HELLP are microangiopathic states associated with thrombocytopenia, TMAs, DIC and multiorgan failure. Plasma exchange can be considered as one of the management options in addition to supportive therapy in severe or refractory cases of HELLP syndrome and TAMOF.

   References Top

1.Haram K, Svendsen E, Abildgaard U. The HELLP syndrome: Clinical issues and management. A Review. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2009;9:8.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Sibai BM. Diagnosis, controversies, and management of the syndrome of hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. Obstet Gynecol 2004;103:981-91.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Eser B, Guven M, Unal A, Coskun R, Altuntas F, Sungur M, et al. The Role of Plasma Exchange in HELLP Syndrome. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 2005;11:211-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Bayraktaroðlu Z, Demirci F, Balat O, Kutlar I, Okan V, Uður G. Plasma exchange therapy in HELLP syndrome: A single-center experience.Turk J Gastroenterol 2006;17:99-102.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Ono T, Mimuro J, Madoiwa S, Soejima K, Kashiwakura Y, Ishiwata A, et al. Severe secondary deficiency of von Willebrand factor-cleaving protease (ADAMTS13) in patients with sepsis-induced disseminated intravascular coagulation: Its correlation with development of renal failure. Blood 2006;107:528-34.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Busund R, Koukline V, Utrobin U, Nedashkovsky E. Plasmapheresis in severe sepsis and septic shock: A prospective, randomised, controlled trial. Intensive Care Med 2002;28:1434-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Eguchi Y. Plasma dia-filtration for severe sepsis. Contrib Nephrol 2010;166:142-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Nguyen TC, Carcillo JA. Bench-to-bedside review: thrombocytopenia-associated multiple organ failure-a newly appreciated syndrome in the critically ill. Crit Care 2006;10:235.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Mayer SA, Aledort LM. Thrombotic microangiopathy: Differential diagnosis, pathophysiology and therapeutic strategies. Mt Sinai J Med 2005;72:166-75.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Studt JD, Hovinga JA, Antoine G, Hermann M, Rieger M, Scheiflinger F, et al. Fatal congenital thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura with apparent ADAMTS 13inhibitor: In vitro inhibition of ADAMTS 13 activity by hemoglobin. Blood 2005;105:542-4.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Rock GA, Shumak KH, Buskard NA, Blanchette VS, Kelton JG, Nair RC, et al. Comparison of plasma exchange with plasma infusion in the treatment of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. Canadian apheresis study group. N Engl J Med 1991;325:393-7.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Taylor FB, Toh CH, Hoots WK, Wada H, Levi M. Scientific Subcommittee on Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC) of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH). Towards definition, clinical and laboratory criteria, and a scoring system for disseminated intravascular coagulation. Thromb Haemost 2001;86:1327-30.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Niewold TB, Bundrick JB. Disseminated intravascular coagulation due to cytomegalovirus infection in an immunocompetent adult treated with plasma exchange. Am J Hematol 2006;81:454-7.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Schött U, Björsell-Ostling E. Sonoclot coagulation analysis and plasma exchange in a case of meningococcal septicaemia. Can J Anaesth 1995;42:64-8.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Nguyen TC, Han YY, Kiss JE, Hall MW, Hassett AC, Jaffe R, et al. Intensive plasma exchange increases a disintegrin and metalloprotease with thrombospondin motifs-13 activity and reverses organ dysfunction in children with thrombocytopenia-associated multiple organ failure. Crit Care Med 2008;36:2878-87.  Back to cited text no. 15


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

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