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Semin Hematol. 2009 Jan;46(1 Suppl 2):S44-58. doi: 10.1053/j.seminhematol.2008.12.003.

Therapeutic approaches to secondary immune thrombocytopenic purpura.

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Platelet Disorders Center, Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Secondary thrombocytopenia is similar to primary or idiopathic thrombocytopenia (ITP) in that it is characterized by reduced platelet production or increased platelet destruction resulting in platelet levels<60,000/microL. Thrombocytopenia can occur from secondary causes associated with chronic disorders or with disturbed immune function due to chronic infections, lymphoproliferative and myeloproliferative disorders, pregnancy, or autoimmune disorders. Diagnosis of secondary ITP in some cases is complex, and the thrombocytopenia can often be resolved by treating the underlying disorder to the extent this is possible. In most cases, treatment is focused on reducing platelet destruction, but, in some cases, treatment may also be directed at stimulating platelet production. The most problematic cases of thrombocytopenia may be seen in pregnant women. This review will address various agents and their utility in treating ITP from secondary causes; in addition, thrombocytopenia in pregnancy, ITP in immunodeficiency conditions, and drug-induced thrombocytopenia will be discussed. Unlike primary ITP, treatment often must be tailored to the specific circumstance underlying the secondary ITP, even if the condition itself is incurable.

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