This review discusses the causes of refractoriness to platelet transfusions and presents three options for its management. Platelet refractoriness is a complication of platelet transfusion that affects variable proportions of patients, mostly depending on their diagnosis, previous immunologic stimuli, and type of blood products used for transfusion. A large recent study showed that platelet refractoriness develops in 13% of patients with acute leukemia transfused with traditional blood products and in 3 to 4% of recipients of white cell-reduced blood components. Options to manage platelet refractoriness include platelets from HLA-typed donors, platelet cross-matching, and the antibody specificity prediction method. The selection of the most convenient approach depends on local skills and the available economic and organizational resources. Finally, emerging concepts are presented which could impact the management of platelet refractoriness.
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