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Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is thrombocytopenia without apparent cause or abnormalities in other celllines.
  • Incidence is ∼2–5/100,000/yr—may be an underestimate owing to undetected, subclinical cases.
  • Acute ITP:
    • 1/2 of cases involve children.
    • 80% of children recover within 8 wk with or without therapy.
    • Adult recovery is delayed and requires specific therapy to achieve remission.
  • Chronic ITP:
    • Occurs mostly in adults
    • Young women are most susceptible in adult onset ITP
    • Characterized by variable response to corticosteroids and other immune suppressants
    • 60–70% respond to splenectomy
  • Chronic refractory ITP:
    • Platelet counts may often wax and wane.
    • Often do not respond to therapy
    • No clear optimal course of treatment
  • Genetics:
    • ITP appears to run in families, as do variations in response to corticosteroids for treatment.


  • Autoantibodies produced by B cells and plasma cells cause immune-mediated destruction of circulating platelets
  • Macrophages in spleen and liver mediate destruction of platelets via IgG autoantibodies
  • IgM and IgA rarely have been seen
  • Some patients do not possess autoantibodies, suggesting a role for T cell-mediated cytotoxicity.
  • C3 and C4 complements have also been shown to play a role in patients that lack autoantibodies
  • Poor platelet production may also play a role especially in chronic or refractory cases of ITP
  • Eradication of Helicobacter pylori can sometimes be associated with platelet recovery (unclear mechanism).

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307383/all/Idiopathic_Thrombocytopenic_Purpura.
Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307383/all/Idiopathic_Thrombocytopenic_Purpura. Accessed April 20, 2019.
Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307383/all/Idiopathic_Thrombocytopenic_Purpura
Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 20]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307383/all/Idiopathic_Thrombocytopenic_Purpura.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura ID - 307383 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307383/all/Idiopathic_Thrombocytopenic_Purpura PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -