Acute thrombocytopenic purpura, also known as immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), is a bleeding disorder characterized by a low platelet count in the blood, which can result in excessive bruising and bleeding.
Platelets are small, colorless cells in the blood that help with blood clotting. In people with acute thrombocytopenic purpura, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys platelets, leading to a decrease in their numbers. This can result in bleeding under the skin, causing purplish spots called petechiae or larger patches called ecchymoses. Bleeding may also occur from the nose, gums, or digestive tract, and in severe cases, it can be life-threatening.
Acute thrombocytopenic purpura is most commonly seen in children, but it can also affect adults. It can be triggered by viral infections, such as the flu or chickenpox, or by medications, such as heparin or antibiotics. In some cases, the cause is unknown.
The diagnosis is made based on a physical examination, blood tests to check platelet counts and function, and sometimes a bone marrow biopsy to evaluate the production of blood cells. Treatment options include corticosteroids, intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), and platelet transfusions. In most cases, the condition resolves on its own within a few weeks to months. However, in some cases, it can become chronic and require ongoing treatment.