IDIOPATHIC THROMBOCYTOPENIC PURPURA (ITP)
Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), also known as immune thrombocytopenic purpura, is an autoimmune disorder characterized by a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) and the development of purpura, which are small purple or red spots on the skin caused by bleeding under the surface.
In ITP, the immune system mistakenly identifies platelets, which are essential for blood clotting, as foreign substances and produces antibodies that attack and destroy them. This immune response leads to a reduced number of platelets in the bloodstream, increasing the risk of bleeding and bruising.
Diagnosing ITP involves a thorough medical history, physical examination, and blood tests. A complete blood count (CBC) can reveal a low platelet count, while other laboratory tests may be performed to rule out other potential causes of thrombocytopenia.
Treatment for ITP depends on the severity of symptoms, platelet count, and individual factors. In cases where bleeding is mild or asymptomatic, observation and monitoring may be sufficient. However, if treatment is necessary, options may include:
- Corticosteroids: These medications suppress the immune system and help increase platelet counts. They are commonly used as a first-line treatment.
- Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG): Infusions of immunoglobulins derived from donated blood can temporarily increase platelet counts by modulating the immune response.
- Platelet Transfusion: Reserved for severe bleeding episodes or emergencies, platelet transfusions can provide a temporary increase in platelet count.
- Medications to Boost Platelet Production: Some medications, such as thrombopoietin receptor agonists, stimulate the production of platelets.
- Splenectomy: In cases of chronic ITP that do not respond to other treatments, surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy) may be considered. The spleen is responsible for removing platelets from circulation, so its removal can help increase platelet counts.