Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura
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Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura is an uncommon disorder, but it continues to be of considerable interest. The disease mechanisms are unclear and the aetiology is unknown. Perhaps most enigmatic of all, the mode of action of plasma therapy, which successfully induces remission in about two-thirds of cases, is wholly inexplicable. There are currently several areas of debate on the subject of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. This paper addresses these points of contention: the definition of the disease, its distinction from haemolytic uraemic syndrome, the nature of the platelet aggregating factors in the plasma of patients with acute disease, the importance of the abnormalities of von Willebrand's factor observed in the acute and quiescent phases of the disease, the nature of the factor in normal plasma that induces remission, and the possible causes of the observed superiority of plasma exchange combined with plasma infusion, over plasma infusion alone.
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