Glanzmann Thrombasthenia Treatment & Management

Updated: Mar 18, 2021
  • Author: Zonera Ashraf Ali, MBBS; Chief Editor: Srikanth Nagalla, MD, MS, FACP  more...
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Approach Considerations

Platelet transfusion is the standard treatment for severe bleeding and perioperative hemostasis in patients with Glanzmann thrombasthenia. A hematologist may be consulted for transfusion recommendations. Control of less severe bleeding episodes may be achieved with local measures such as fibrin sealants and topical thrombin, or with antifibrinolytics or desmopressin. [13]

As platelet counts are normal in Glanzmann thrombasthenia, response to platelet transfusions must be assessed functionally, principally by monitoring for clinical reduction in bleeding. Laboratory testing of platelet function may also be used, but may be difficult to perform, may take several hours, and are not available at all hospitals. [13]

Because patients often require multiple transfusions during their lifetime, they are at risk for developing antiplatelet alloantibodies targeting human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) or glycoproteins (GPIIb/IIIa) that are deficient in patients with Glanzmann thrombasthenia. However, antiplatelet antibodies have been reported in patients who had not received platelet transfusions. [13]

To reduce the potential for platelet alloimmunization, patients should receive leukocyte-depleted blood products. Leukocyte depletion can be accomplished with mechanical filtration. Only filtered blood products should be given. Use of platelets from HLA-matched donors is a further attempt to prevent platelet alloimmunization.

Other treatment considerations include the following:

  • Patients should be vaccinated against hepatitis B due to the infectious risks associated with multiple transfusions
  • Avoid medications that affect platelet function, such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Consider oral contraceptives to control menorrhagia

Recombinant activated factor VII (rFVIIa) has been used in patients with antibodies to platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa and/or HLA that render transfusions ineffective. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved rFVIIa (NovoSeven RT) for treatment of bleeding episodes and perioperative management in adults and children with Glanzmann thrombasthenia that is refractory to platelet transfusions, with or without antibodies to platelets. [14] An alysis of data from the prospective Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia Registry (829 bleeds and 206 procedures in 218 GT patients) found that rFVIIa was frequently used in nonsurgical and surgical bleeds, with high efficacy rates and good safety profile, irrespective of platelet antibodies/refractoriness status. [15, 16, 17]  

Patients with Glanzmann thrombasthenia who require surgical intervention should receive platelet transfusions preoperatively, to prevent excessive bleeding during surgery. Further platelet transfusions are considered, based on maintaining hemostasis. Alternatively, rFVIIa may be useful for preventing or controlling perioperative bleeding.


Pregnancy should be closely monitored in woman affected by GT, particularly in cases of anti‐αIIbβ3 immunization. Unfortunately, information is scarce on this matter. Maternal anti‐αIIbβ3 immunization may be associated with fetal thrombocytopenia and in utero death. In GT patients, anamnestic response with rise in antibodies against αIIbβ3 titer during pregnancy has been reported, suggesting that immunization may also be a consequence of exposure to fetal platelet antigens. In these cases, absence of platelet‐specific antibodies at the start of pregnancy does not preclude their appearance at a later date. [18]

For management of peripartum bleeding, platelet transfusion is generally the first-line treatment, although use of rFVIIa has been reported to avoid development of, or to treat patients with, antibodies to platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa. [19]