Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura Overview

What is thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura?
A person with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura has abnormal blood clots that form in the small blood vessels. The blood clots block the delivery of oxygen to tissues, which can result in damage to the brain and the kidneys. Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura also results in abnormally low numbers of platelets and red blood cells in the bloodstream. This leads to the formation of purpura, which are bruises under the skin. The most common causes of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura are cancer, infections, and a medication side effect.

What are the symptoms of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura?
Symptoms of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura include fever, pale skin, fatigue, and a rash that looks like bruises or broken blood vessels under the skin. Additional symptoms may include jaundice, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, headache, and joint pains.

How does the doctor treat thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura?
Treatment for thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura includes plasma exchange. Plasma is the liquid part of blood that does not include the blood cells. Plasma exchange removes the plasma, and replaces it with new, fresh frozen plasma. Additional treatment for thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura may include medication, blood transfusion, and surgery to remove the spleen.

Continue to Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura Incidence

Last Updated: Sep 1, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura References
  1. Cataland SR, Wu HM. Immunotherapy for thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. Curr Opin Hematol. 2005 Sep;12(5):359-63. [16093780]
  2. McCarthy LJ, Dlott JS, Orazi A, Waxman D, Miraglia CC, Danielson CF. Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura: yesterday, today, tomorrow. Ther Apher Dial. 2004 Apr;8(2):80-6. [15255121]
  3. Sadler JE, Moake JL, Miyata T, George JN. Recent advances in thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. Hematology (Am Soc Hematol Educ Program). 2004;:407-23. [15561695]
  4. Tsai HM. Molecular mechanisms in thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. Semin Thromb Hemost. 2004 Oct;30(5):549-57. [15497097]
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