Choosing Wisely:

Don’t treat patients with immune thrombocytopenic purpura in the absence of bleeding or a very low platelet count.

Rationale and Comments: Treatment for immune thrombocytopenic purpura should be aimed at treating and preventing bleeding episodes and improving quality of life. Unnecessary treatment exposes patients to potentially serious treatment side effects and can be costly, with little expectation of clinical benefit. The decision to treat immune thrombocytopenic purpura should be based on an individual patient’s symptoms, bleeding risk (as determined by prior bleeding episodes and risk factors for bleeding such as use of anticoagulants, advanced age, high-risk activities, etc.), social factors (distance from the hospital/travel concerns), side effects of possible treatments, upcoming procedures, and patient preferences. In the pediatric setting, treatment is usually not indicated in the absence of mucosal bleeding regardless of platelet count. In the adult setting, treatment may be indicated in the absence of bleeding if the platelet count is very low. However, immune thrombocytopenic purpura treatment is rarely indicated in adult patients with platelet counts greater than 30,000/microL unless they are preparing for surgery or an invasive procedure, or have a significant additional risk factor for bleeding. In patients preparing for surgery or other invasive procedures, short-term treatment may be indicated to increase the platelet count prior to the planned intervention and during the immediate postoperative period.
Sponsoring Organizations:
  • American Society of Hematology
  • Sources:
  • American Society of Hematology guidelines
  • Disciplines:
  • Hematologic
  • References: • Neunert C, Lim W, Crowther M, Cohen A, Solberg L Jr., Crowther MA; American Society of Hematology. The American Society of Hematology 2011 evidence-based practice guideline for immune thrombocytopenia. Blood. 2011;117(16):4190–207.

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