Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura complicated by an intracranial hemorrhage secondary to an arteriovenous malformation

Lorrie A. Downs, Neal J. Thomas, Melanie A. Comito, Andreas H. Meier, Mark S. Dias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To report a case of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) complicated by an intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) in a child with a previously undiagnosed arteriovenous malformation. Case: We describe a child with known ITP who developed a severe headache, was evaluated in an emergency department of a community hospital, and was found by computer tomography (CT) scan to have an ICH. Despite treatment with platelets, corticosteroids, and intravenous immunoglobulin, she subsequently developed an acute change in mental status. A second CT scan showed that the hemorrhage had significantly increased in size despite treatment. The patient underwent an emergent splenectomy prior to a craniotomy to remove the hemorrhage. At the time of surgery, it was discovered that she had an arteriovenous malformation at the sight of the hemorrhage. Her recovery was unremarkable and she was discharged to home with no neurologic sequelae. Conclusions: ICH is a rare but life-threatening complication of ITP. Neurologic symptoms in a child with ITP should be quickly evaluated by CT scan. Most experts suggest careful observation for most cases of ITP. However, when neurologic symptoms occur, more aggressive treatment options must be used. Care of this child included an emergency splenectomy prior to her craniotomy. Pediatric emergency medicine practitioners must be aware of these neurologic symptoms and must not hesitate to involve pediatric surgeons and neurosurgeons in the care of the child. Prompt recognition and early intervention are the keys to improving outcomes when ICH complicates ITP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-311
Number of pages3
JournalPediatric Emergency Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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