Refractory Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura and Cytomegalovirus Infection: A Call for a Change in the Current Guidelines

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Alex Shimanovsky
Devbala Patel
Jeffrey Wasser


Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura, ITP, Cytomegalovirus, CMV, Refractory ITP, CMV-associated ITP


Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is characterized by a decreased platelet count caused by excess destruction of platelets and inadequate platelet production. In many cases the etiology is not known, but viral illness is thought to play a role in the development of some cases of ITP. The current (2011) American Society of Hematology ITP guidelines recommend initial diagnostic studies to include testing for HIV and Hepatitis C. The guidelines suggest that initial treatment consist of observation, therapy with corticosteroids, IVIG or anti D. While most cases respond to the standard therapy such that the steroids may be tapered and the platelet counts remain at a hemostatically safe level. Some patients with ITP are dependent on long term steroid maintenance and the thrombocytopenia persists with the tapering of the steroids. Recent case reports demonstrate that ITP related to cytomegalovirus (CMV) can persist in spite of standard therapy and that antiviral therapy maybe indicated. Herein we report a case of a 26-year-old female with persistent ITP that resolved after the delivery of a CMV infected infant and placenta. Furthermore we review the current literature on CMV-associated ITP and propose that the current ITP guidelines be amended to include assessment for CMV as part of the work-up for severe and refractory ITP prior to splenectomy.


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