Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a blood disorder that causes blood clots to form in small blood vessels around the body. This leads to a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia).
This disease may be caused by problems with ann enzyme (a type of protein) that is involved in blood clotting. These changes cause clotting to occur in an abnormal way.
In some cases, the disorder is passed down through families (inherited). In these cases, people are born with naturally low levels of this enzyme. This condition also may be related to:
Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis plus infusion of donor plasma) is used to remove the antibodies that are affecting clotting from the blood. It also replace the missing enzyme.
This treatment is repeated daily until blood tests show improvement.
People who do not respond to this treatment or whose condition often returns may need to:
Plasma exchange has greatly improved the outcome of this disease. Most people can recover completely. However, some people die from this disease, especially if it is not diagnosed immediately. In people who don't recover, this condition can become long-term (chronic).
Call your health care provider if you have any unexplained bleeding.
Because the cause is unknown, there is no known way to prevent this condition.
McCrae KR, Sadler JE, Cines DB. Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and the hemolytic uremic syndrome. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, Heslop HE, Weitz JI, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 136.
Abrams CS. Thrombocyopenia. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 179.
Updated by: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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