Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura

It is a rare bleeding disorder also known as Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), characterized by a low amount of platelets in the blood. Blood platelets are essential for normal blood clotting. In people with ITP, a person’s own immune system attacks the healthy platelets and destroys them. Therefore, platelets number falls under 150,000 to cause thrombocytopenia.


Immune thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP) is one of the most common causes of low platelets and in some people it may come without any symptom. Although the exact cause of ITP is still unknown, it happens when body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys platelets instead of infections or disease.

In Adults, ITP is more often occur in women than men and can run in families.

Also, it more commonly occurs in children than adults. In children, ITP affects both boys and girls equally due to a viral infection.


ITP may or may not reveal signs and symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive or Frequent bruising (purpura)
  • Superficial bleeding with a rash of pinpoint-sized reddish-purple spots.
  • Bleeding gums or nose bleeds
  • Blood in stools or urine
  • Heavy menstruation

Before starting diagnostic tests, a doctor may ask few questions regarding:

  • Type of symptoms (including bleeding)
  • Starting time of symptoms
  • Anything that relieves symptoms or gets worse
  • Current medications, therapy or supplements
  • History of any shots, or blood transfusion, or taken any drug with injection
  • Any family member who is suffering from immune system, bleeding, or bruising problem
  • Recently taken meals

A thorough physical examination is conducted to see the signs of bleeding and size of spleen. The doctor also need a bone marrow aspiration or biopsy to confirm the ITP disease.

Various tests which are conducted to check the low platelet levels include:

CBC (Complete Blood Count)- It helps to know the amount of RBCs, WBCs and Platelets.

Blood Smear- It helps to know the shape and size of platelets.

Bone Marrow Test– A very fine needle is used to draw a small part of liquid from bone marrow to find the abnormal cells. Sometimes, a biopsy can be performed by using a different form of needle to check the numbers and type abnormal cells in the bone marrow.


A lot of treatment options are available for ITP, so a patient needs to consult with the specialist doctor to choose an ideal treatment option.

Usually, treatment depends on the severity of ITP disease. Mild cases only require regular checks of platelet levels.

The basic aim of treatment resides in maintaining appropriate platelet level that’s high enough to prevent serious bleeding in the brain or intestines.

Various treatments used to control and manage ITP disease are;

Corticosteroids- It helps to raise platelet count, typically taken as once daily dose in a pill or tablet form.

Surgery- If other treatment options fail to raise the enough platelet levels then surgery can be performed to remove the spleen that causes destruction of platelets.

Biologic Therapy- Drugs like Rituximab are used to attacks B cells, type of white blood cells that destroy blood platelets.

Intravenous Immune Globulin (IVIG). Even if a steroid therapy and surgical procedure fail to recover healthy platelet then IVIG treatment procedure may be performed. In this method, medication is given for several hours through an IV, over a period of 1 to 5 days.

Rho (D) Immune Globulin is used as an alternative to traditional IVIG in Rh+ patients that also given through an IV. It takes just less than 30 min having side effects similar to IVIG.

Besides above treatments, an ITP patient may need to make some changes to his/her lifestyle such as to prevent from getting hurt or injury. Avoid taking medicines that cause bleeding, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Also, consult with your specialist doctor if it’s OK to drink alcohol or not.

For more information on this topic, visit us at Chandigarh Cancer And Diagnostic Center (CCDC) or book an appointment to consult with the specialist doctor.