Which skin and mucous membrane findings are characteristic of immune thrombocytopenia (ITP)?

Updated: Dec 14, 2019
  • Author: Craig M Kessler, MD, MACP; Chief Editor: Srikanth Nagalla, MBBS, MS, FACP  more...
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Answer

An initial impression of the severity of ITP is formed by examining the skin and mucous membranes. Widespread petechiae and ecchymoses, oozing from a venipuncture site, gingival bleeding, and hemorrhagic bullae indicate that the patient is at risk for a serious bleeding complication. If the patient's blood pressure was taken recently, petechiae may be observed under and distal to the area where the cuff was placed and inflated. Suction-type electrocardiograph (ECG) leads may similarly induce petechiae.

Mild thrombocytopenia and a relatively low risk for a serious bleeding complication may manifest as petechiae over the ankles in patients who are ambulatory or on the back in patients who are bedridden.


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