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Difference Between ITP and TTP


Blood disorders are conditions wherein the normal function of blood is affected. This disorder may involve factors that influence the production of blood components like hemoglobin or blood proteins. Blood disorders may also involve conditions where there is improper coagulation of the blood or the blood cells become infected.

There are several kinds of blood disorders that exist today. This article will tackle blood clotting disorders, specifically thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Generally, these disorders are called thrombocytopenic purpura, a condition where platelet counts are affected resulting in the appearance of red or purple discolorations on the skin. What makes these two disorders different from each other?

Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a disorder that results in clotting of the small blood vessels from spontaneous platelet aggregation. The clots formed can be damaging since they can interfere with the proper flow of blood to the body’s vital organs. People with this type of disorder have insufficient amounts of enzymes necessary in inhibiting a blood clotting protein. Since many blood clots may form from this disorder, blood platelets tend to become overused. Platelets play an important role in blood clotting, and with insufficient quantities of this blood component, people tend to bruise or bleed very easily.

The symptoms of TTP result from the impeded blood flow, but others may be due to the shortage of blood platelets. Severe symptoms of this disorder may involve the brain. Patients can feel confused at times, and they tend to speak differently and have hallucinations.  Patients may also experience a rapid heart rate, weakness, fever, and they may even faint.  Apart from the common symptoms mentioned above, which are bleeding and bruising, insufficient quantities of platelets may cause small, purple spots to appear on the skin that may resemble a rash. Treating this kind of disorder usually involves blood replacement therapy. This type of treatment is applied since some blood donors may possess the blood that contains the right enzymes needed to restore the imbalance in the blood of the patient.  The disease can be episodic, so this means that patients may need to undergo treatment again if they have another episode.

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is another blood disorder that happens for no apparent reason. In this type of disorder, the clotting of blood does not occur as it is supposed to.  Low quantities of blood platelets cause failure of the blood to clot. The platelets are components of the blood that are responsible for clumping blood together. If a person does not have enough platelets, clotting usually does not take place or it may be delayed. This then results in excessive bleeding. The medical term “idiopathic” means “no definitive cause” or “of unknown cause”; hence, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is termed as such because no known explanation exists on what causes the condition. The appearance of purple bruises, bleeding gums, and nosebleeds are some of the common symptoms of this disorder.

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is not a fatal disorder and is not even considered very dangerous. Treatments are available and are usually given when the platelet count falls below 20,000 per µl.  Patients with a platelet count of 50,000/ µl and above generally do not require treatment. Using steroids is the first-line treatment for such a condition.


  1. ITP and TTP are both blood disorders that involve platelet counts.
  2. In ITP, there is a failure of the blood to clot, while TTP results from the formation of too many blood clots which lead to overused platelets.
  3. Though each condition has a specific mechanism, both have the same end symptoms, which are easy bruising and bleeding.
  4. Treatment of TTP involves blood replacement therapy to correct the imbalance of the blood components, while ITP can be treated with oral steroids.
  5. The cause for ITP cannot be determined, while TTP is usually caused by spontaneous platelet aggregation.

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  1. How long has the testing for ttp been known? I was diagnosed with itp in early 1998. They tried treating me with steroids, but no matter how much they gave me it didn’t work. I was hospitalized shortly after being diagnosed since the steroids were not helping. During my hospital stay I got extremely sick, a body temperature that was over 106* and a low red blood cell count. I was really jaundice. I was so completely out of it and the doctor stayed by my bedside for over a week. My fever finally broke and less than 48 hours later I ended up with a blood clot that ran the full length of my arm. Being on blood thinners only made my platelets drop even more. The doctors decided to take my spleen out. Slowly all my numbers started to rise and my blood clot got better. It seems they tested me for everything under the sun, but could not figure out what was causing my platelets to drop and to get a blood clot at the same time. So still to this day they do not know.

  2. I have ITP and it can be fatal if it’s not treated my platelets drop down to 2000 which is very very low I was told by my doctor is at I would have been dead if I didn’t go into the hospital when I did I had to undergo not only steroids but I had to go in using Cancer drugs rituxan to treat my ITP so this article is not factual it’s opinion if you get ITP as an adult you have it for life you may go into remission but you can always have it resurfaced again please get your facts straight before you start putting information on here that’s not totally accurate

  3. What are the longterm effects of ttp? Can it cause pain and blockage in the back? I have ttp and can’t find any information on Belgian Webpages.

  4. Hi I have TTP and I’m in hospital now for the 4th time they treat me with plasma exchange for 13days Nd I’ve had the cancer drug twice and need it for another 2 more weeks

  5. There is some misinformation in this article: treatment for TTP is plasma exchange, or plasmapherisis, not blood replacement therapy. Without plasma exchange, the chances of survival are about 10%.

  6. I had TTP in 1996. I had 30 plalete exchange (pherisis) treatments and my spleen removed. Nothing was working until the doctor change my platelets to synthetic plalete instead of donated plalets. My plaletes have not dropped below 180 to this day. My RBC are always low and I’m anemic. When I’m sick, I really hurt. My onocologist told me I would and he was right. If I get a cold, I feel like I have the flu. Hang in there. Things will get better. P.S. I’m a 35 years Breast Cancer survivor.

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