Bleeding complications in immune thrombocytopenia
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Bleeding manifestations in patients with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) range from mild skin bruises to life-threatening intracranial hemorrhage (ICH). Severe bleeding is distinctly uncommon when the platelet count is >30 × 10(9)/L and usually only occurs when the platelet count falls <10 × 10(9)/L. Based on estimates from clinical studies, ITP registries and administrative databases, the frequency of ICH in patients with ITP is ~0.5% in children and 1.5% in adults. Estimates of severe (non-ICH) bleeding are difficult to obtain because of the lack of standardized case definitions; the lack of a universally accepted, ITP-specific bleeding assessment tool; and the omission of reporting bleeding outcomes in many clinical studies. In practice, the presence of bleeding should dictate whether or not treatment is needed because many patients, especially children, can be safely managed with observation alone. Guiding principles for the management of ITP, based on the bleeding risk are: (1) Decide when treatment is needed and when it can safely be withheld; (2) for patients with chronic ITP, use the least toxic treatment at the lowest dose; (3) emergency treatment of severe thrombocytopenia-associated bleeding requires combination therapy; and (4) early aggressive therapy may result in durable platelet count responses.
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