Diagnoses & Conditions

Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)

Understanding ITP

ITP, also known as primary immune thrombocytopenic purpura and autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura, is a platelet disorder. Sometimes ITP is referred to as “chronic ITP”. In those with ITP, the blood does not clot as it should due to low platelets, and the person may have trouble stopping bleeding.

Symptoms of ITP

Common symptoms of primary immune thrombocytopenic purpura include bleeding into the skin (petechiae) and may appear as small red spots under the skin caused by leaking from blood vessels, bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding from gums, blood in urine or stool, heavy menstrual bleeding, and fatigue. ITP also may not present with any symptoms at all.

Diagnosing ITP

Diagnosing primary immune thrombocytopenic purpura includes a thorough review of a patient's medical history and physical examination. A careful review of medications the patient is taking is important as some drugs may be associated with thrombocytopenia. A complete blood count (CBC) which measures the platelet count as well as the number of other blood cells, and a blood smear to examine the platelets may be ordered. Testing may include bone marrow tests and a blood test to check for an antibody that attacks platelets.

Treating ITP

The treatment of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is determined by the platelet count and the severity of the symptoms. In some cases, no therapy is needed. In most cases, drugs that alter the immune system's attack on the platelet are prescribed. ITP is commonly treated with corticosteroids but may also be treated with other medications including eltrombopag (Promacta®), immune globulin administered into the blood stream intravenously (IVIG), and romiplostim (NPlate®).


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The information provided on this website is not medical advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with questions concerning a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay seeking it based on information provided on this website.