Isolated thrombocytopenia is a condition where your platelet levels are low, but other blood cell levels are within a typical range. It’s rare and potentially dangerous.

Thrombocytopenia is also known as low platelet count. It’s a condition that occurs when your blood doesn’t have enough cells called platelets (or thrombocytes).

Platelets are cells that form clots in response to damage in your blood vessels. A low platelet count can lead to an increased risk of bleeding or bruising.

Thrombocytopenia frequently goes together with other blood conditions, like anemia. But isolated thrombocytopenia occurs when your platelet levels are low, but other blood cell levels are within a typical range.

Isolated thrombocytopenia is relatively rare. Although we don’t know exactly how many people in the world are affected by this condition, some doctors estimate that it occurs in around 5% of the people they treat with thrombocytopenia.

Untreated isolated thrombocytopenia can be dangerous because of the risk of internal bleeding that can be fatal. Read on to learn more about isolated thrombocytopenia, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

The symptoms of isolated thrombocytopenia can vary depending on how low your platelet count is. Some people may not experience any symptoms, while others may have frequent bleeding or bruising.

Symptoms of isolated thrombocytopenia can include:

In more severe cases you may have internal bleeding. Symptoms of internal bleeding include:

Isolated thrombocytopenia can be chronic (long-term) and acute (short-term). These conditions can have different causes.

Acute isolated thrombocytopenia can be caused by:

Chronic isolated thrombocytopenia, on the other hand, can result from:

Complications of isolated thrombocytopenia include internal bleeding of the brain or the intestines. Left untreated, these complications can be fatal.

Isolated thrombocytopenia in pregnancy

Mild thrombocytopenia can happen in pregnancy, and it’s usually not a cause for concern. But in rare cases, thrombocytopenia can be severe. Very low platelet levels can have serious complications for both mom and baby, like:

It’s important to contact a healthcare professional if you experience any symptoms of thrombocytopenia, like:

  • frequent nosebleeds
  • bruising
  • wounds that don’t stop bleeding
  • any signs of internal bleeding

In addition, be sure to speak with your doctor if you’ve been diagnosed with isolated thrombocytopenia and your symptoms are getting worse, or you’ve developed new symptoms.

The diagnosis of isolated thrombocytopenia typically begins with a physical exam. If your doctor suspects a low platelet count, they may check your skin for petechia or purpura. They’ll also ask about your medical history to look for potential causes of this condition.

Your doctor will then run several lab tests. One of the first tests will likely be a blood test called complete blood count (CBC). This test measures the levels of all cells in your blood. It can help your doctor figure out if your platelets are low and if other cells are affected as well.

If only platelets are affected, they’ll likely diagnose you with isolated thrombocytopenia.

Other tests may include:

Treatment of isolated thrombocytopenia depends on the severity of your condition and the underlying cause. If your platelet count is only slightly low and there are no symptoms, you may not need any treatment. Instead, your doctor will likely monitor you to ensure your condition doesn’t worsen.

But you might need treatment if your platelet count is significantly low or you have symptoms. Treatment may include medications that suppress your immune system, for example:

In some cases, if your condition is severe or if medications don’t work as expected, a procedure called a splenectomy may be necessary. This procedure involves removing the spleen.

Be sure to discuss the potential benefits and risks of your treatment with your doctor.

Isolated thrombocytopenia is a blood disorder that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough platelets while other blood cells are at typical levels. It can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term).

Treatment of isolated thrombocytopenia usually involves using immunosuppressive medications. But some people may need to have their spleen surgically removed.

Not everyone with isolated thrombocytopenia has symptoms or needs treatment. But people with very low platelet levels may need treatment to prevent serious complications, like internal bleeding. Severe isolated thrombocytopenia may be especially dangerous in pregnancy.

Speak with your doctor if you have any symptoms of this condition or questions about management.