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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2012 Feb;7(2):342-7. doi: 10.2215/CJN.07230711. Epub 2011 Dec 22.

Attending rounds: microangiopathic hemolytic anemia with renal insufficiency.

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  • 1University of Western Ontario, Department of Medicine, London, Ontario, Canada.


The classification of thrombotic microangiopathy has evolved and expanded due to treatment and advances in understanding of the diseases associated with this clinical presentation. The three clinical forms of thrombotic microangiopathy-thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and disseminated intravascular coagulation-encompass a wide range of disorders that can be classified as either primary (idiopathic) or secondary to another identifiable disease or clinical context. Identification of an inhibitor to a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with a thrombospondin type 1 motif, member 13 (ADAMTS13) in the idiopathic and acute forms of TTP, recognition of the absence of ADAMTS13 inhibition in diarrheal HUS, identification of complement abnormalities in atypical HUS, and a better understanding of the role of plasma therapy, rituximab, and eculizumab therapy have all had a major effect on current understanding of the thrombotic microangiopathies. In this Attending Rounds, a patient with a thrombotic microangiopathy is presented, along with discussion highlighting the difficulty of differentiating TTP from HUS and disseminated intravascular coagulation, the need for a prompt diagnosis, and the role for plasma therapy in appropriately selected patients. The discussion attempts to provide a simple clinical approach to the diagnosis, treatment options, and future course of adults and children suffering from a thrombotic microangiopathy.

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