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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Authentic and Spurious Causes of Thrombocytopenia. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Treatment for ITP

Treatment guidelines recommend that patients receive treatment if they have any of the following:

  • Significant bleeding risk
  • <20 x 109/L platelets and moderate bleeding
  • <10 x 10 9/L platelets with no bleeding symptoms

Corticosteroids are effective treatments for 50 - 80% of individuals with either acute or chronic ITP. Even with a reduction or discontinuation of corticosteroid treatment, remission can be maintained.

Anti-D immunoglobulin, administered intravenously, may be an effective treatment for Rh-positive children or adults diagnosed with acute or chronic ITP. Anti-D immunoglobulin forms red blood cell complexes that block the destruction of platelets. This treatment cannot be used for patients who are Rh-negative or who have undergone a splenectomy.

When a patient is refractory to the above treatments, other treatment possibilities include thrombopoietic drugs to stimulate the megakaryoblast or Rituximab, a treatment that targets CD 20-positive B-cells.

Splenectomy may be a last resort treatment for chronic ITP sufferers if their platelet counts are below 30 x 109/ L or if symptoms warrant it. In ITP, antibodies develop that coat the platelets. The spleen produces macrophages whose Fc receptors recognize and destroy these antibody-coated platelets. Removing the spleen would decrease platelet destruction, but it is a last resort since the immunologic function of the spleen would also be lost.