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Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura

What is ITP?

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a bleeding disorder characterized by too few platelets in the blood. In ITP, platelets are being destroyed by the immune system. Idiopathic means the exact cause of the disease is unknown.

Because more is being learned about the autoimmune nature of the disease, it is sometimes called immune thrombocytopenic purpura.

Symptoms

  • Bruising
  • Nosebleed or bleeding in the mouth
  • Bleeding into the skin, pinpoint red spots or petechial rash
  • Abnormally heavy menstruation  

Diagnosis

Tests include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) shows low platelet count.
  • Bone marrow aspiration or biopsy 

Treatment

In children, the disease often runs its course without treatment. ITP patients should avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen, and warfarin because these drugs interfere with platelet function and blood clotting, and bleeding may occur. Several treatments are available that can increase the platelet count, but all have side effects. Treatment may be necessary when there is active bleeding or a high risk of bleeding complications.

ITP is treated by the Division of Pediatric Hematology.