How is TTP diagnosed?

The first step toward treatment for thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is diagnosis1

There are a few things doctors will look at to help diagnose TTP:

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms

Your doctor will ask about any symptoms you are experiencing and examine you to look for signs of TTP, like bruising or bleeding.

Medical history

Medical history

Your doctor will ask about your health and medical history. They may ask about your family’s medical history too. It’s important to be honest with your doctor. It can speed up diagnosis.

Blood tests

Blood tests

Your doctor will use certain tests to check your blood for signs of TTP.

“My initial signs and symptoms were…that I was getting infection after infection, and then I had a lot of bruising on my body… It was only when a doctor that had come on duty, 8 hours after I was in Accident and Emergency, that he recognized the signs…and he ordered the blood test for the platelet count and the full blood count, and he said that I had TTP.”

–Saida, living with TTP

It’s okay to get frustrated

Because TTP is so rare, your healthcare team might not be familiar with it. It also shows up differently in everyone. These things combined make it hard to diagnose TTP, so it can sometimes take a long time to get diagnosed.2-4 You should always feel comfortable asking questions and having open conversations with your care team. They are there to help you find the right answers!

Diagnosis can be challenging, but being open with your doctor about what you’re experiencing can help.

References:
  1. Scully M, Hunt BJ, Benjamin S, et al; British Committee for Standards in Haematology. Guidelines on the diagnosis and management of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and other thrombotic microangiopathies. Br J Haematol. 2012;158(3):323-335. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2141.2012.09167.x
  2. Arnold DM, Patriquin CJ, Nazy I. Thrombotic microangiopathies: a general approach to diagnosis and management. CMAJ. 2017;189(4):E153-E159. doi:10.1503/cmaj.160142
  3. Tsai H-M. Pathophysiology of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. Int J Hematol. 2010;91(1):1-19. doi:10.1007/s12185-009-0476-1
  4. Zheng XL, Vesely SK, Cataland SR, et al. ISTH guidelines for the diagnosis of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. J Thromb Haemost. 2020;18(10):2486-2495. doi:10.1111/jth.15006