Life-threatening bleeding episodes in primary immune thrombocytopenia: a single-center retrospective study of 169 inpatients

Ann Hematol. 2017 Nov;96(11):1915-1920. doi: 10.1007/s00277-017-3095-6. Epub 2017 Aug 14.


Bleeding is the most important clinical outcome in patients with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), and the goal of therapy in such cases is to treat or prevent bleeding. The frequency of and risk factors for bleeding events in ITP have only recently been identified in several large-scale studies. However, there is little published information about severe life-threatening bleeding in ITP. To clarify the clinical features of life-threatening bleeding in patients with primary ITP, we systematically reviewed the medical records of all ITP patients that were admitted to our hospital between January 1, 1992, and December 31, 2015. Of 169 consecutive inpatients with primary ITP, 8 suffered life-threatening bleeding (10 episodes: gastrointestinal, 4 cases; pulmonary, 1 case; and intracranial, 5 cases). All of these patients were ≥ 60 years of age and had platelet counts of < 20 × 109/L. The highest incidence of such bleeding was found among elderly patients in their 80s with platelet counts of < 5 × 109/L. Among the patients aged ≥ 60 years with platelet counts of < 20 × 109/L, the background data of the patients with and without life-threatening bleeding episodes were compared. It was shown that the patients in the bleeding group were older than those in the non-bleeding group (80.13 ± 2.31 vs. 73.39 ± 2.51 years, p = 0.0266). Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, anticoagulant use, ITP phase, and sex were not identified as strong risk factors for life-threatening bleeding. Combining age and the platelet count might be a useful way of identifying ITP patients that are at risk of life-threatening bleeding. Most intracranial hemorrhaging (4/5) was spontaneous and multifocal, suggesting that these might be characteristics of ITP-related bleeding in elderly patients.

Keywords: Hemorrhaging; ICH; Primary ITP; Thrombocytopenia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hemorrhage / blood*
  • Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet Count / trends
  • Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic / blood*
  • Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic / diagnosis
  • Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult