Etiology and Outcomes of Thrombotic Microangiopathies

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2019 Apr 5;14(4):557-566. doi: 10.2215/CJN.11470918. Epub 2019 Mar 12.


Background and objectives: Thrombotic microangiopathies constitute a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. Secondary thrombotic microangiopathies are less characterized than primary thrombotic microangiopathies (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and atypical hemolytic and uremic syndrome). The relative frequencies and outcomes of secondary and primary thrombotic microangiopathies are unknown.

Design, setting, participants, & measurements: We conducted a retrospective study in a four-hospital institution in 564 consecutive patients with adjudicated thrombotic microangiopathies during the 2009-2016 period. We estimated the incidence of primary and secondary thrombotic microangiopathies, thrombotic microangiopathy causes, and major outcomes during hospitalization (death, dialysis, major cardiovascular events [acute coronary syndrome and/or acute heart failure], and neurologic complications [stroke, cognitive impairment, or epilepsy]).

Results: We identified primary thrombotic microangiopathies in 33 of 564 patients (6%; thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura: 18 of 564 [3%]; atypical hemolytic and uremic syndrome: 18 of 564 [3%]). Secondary thrombotic microangiopathies were found in 531 of 564 patients (94%). A cause was identified in 500 of 564 (94%): pregnancy (35%; 11 of 1000 pregnancies), malignancies (19%), infections (33%), drugs (26%), transplantations (17%), autoimmune diseases (9%), shiga toxin due to Escherichia coli (6%), and malignant hypertension (4%). In the 31 of 531 patients (6%) with other secondary thrombotic microangiopathies, 23% of patients had sickle cell disease, 10% had glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, and 44% had folate deficiency. Multiple causes of thrombotic microangiopathies were more frequent in secondary than primary thrombotic microangiopathies (57% versus 19%; P<0.001), and they were mostly infections, drugs, transplantation, and malignancies. Significant differences in clinical and biologic differences were observed among thrombotic microangiopathy causes. During the hospitalization, 84 of 564 patients (15%) were treated with dialysis, 64 of 564 patients (11%) experienced major cardiovascular events, and 25 of 564 patients (4%) had neurologic complications; 58 of 564 patients (10%) died, but the rates of complications and death varied widely by the cause of thrombotic microangiopathies.

Conclusions: Secondary thrombotic microangiopathies represent the majority of thrombotic microangiopathies. Multiple thrombotic microangiopathies causes are present in one half of secondary thrombotic microangiopathies. The risks of dialysis, neurologic and cardiac complications, and death vary by the cause of thrombotic microangiopathies.

Keywords: Acute Coronary Syndrome; Anemia; Cognitive Dysfunction; Confidence Intervals; Epilepsy; Escherichia coli; Folic Acid; Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency; Hypertension; Immune System Diseases; Incidence; Logistic Models; Malignant; Neoplasms; Odds Ratio; Pregnancy; Purpura; Retrospective Studies; Shiga Toxin; Sickle Cell; Stroke; Thrombotic Microangiopathies; Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic; heart failure; hospitalization; renal dialysis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thrombotic Microangiopathies* / complications
  • Thrombotic Microangiopathies* / epidemiology
  • Thrombotic Microangiopathies* / etiology
  • Thrombotic Microangiopathies* / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult