Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is an immune disorder in which the body attacks the cells responsible for blood clotting (platelets), resulting in mild to severe bleeding. The cause of ITP is not known (idiopathic).

People with this disorder may have bruises or black-and-blue marks (purpura) on the skin. Internal bleeding is a more serious complication that can occur.

Some cases of ITP may go away on their own and do not require treatment. In other cases, treatment may be needed to control bleeding. Some medicines can help the body make more platelets. Steroid medication (such as prednisone) also may be needed to suppress the immune system. An intravenous (IV) infusion of a substance made from human blood plasma (immune globulin) may be given. On rare occasions, the spleen may need to be removed.

Last Updated: March 30, 2009

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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