Screening exams can help find disease at its earliest stage, when the chances for successful treatment are greatest. These tests are usually done when you are healthy and have no specific symptoms.
Unlike with some other diseases, however, there are currently no recommended screenings for thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) when a patient has no signs or symptoms.
One of the best ways to detect TTP at the earliest possible point — when options for treatment are best — is to see a medical expert at the first sign of symptoms.
The world-renowned medical research experts at the OSUCCC – James are studying a number of different ways to detect TTP earlier, so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.
Diagnosing Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
To test for thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), the OSUCCC – James experts may conduct a variety of tests, including:
Physical Exam and Medical History
Your doctor will examine you for overall health and signs of bruising or bleeding under your skin, fever, jaundice or paleness. You’ll also discuss your medical history, especially about risk factors for TTP such as:
- Having cancer, HIV, infections or lupus or if you are currently pregnant
- Having a history of medical procedures such as blood- and marrow- stem cell transplants
- Use of certain medications, including chemotherapy
- Use of products containing quinine
The OSUCCC – James diagnostic experts use the following blood and laboratory tests to diagnose TTP:
Complete Blood Count
By using a small sample of blood drawn from your arm, this test can measure the amount of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in your blood. TTP causes an abnormally low count of platelets and red blood cells.
Blood cells can be examined in a laboratory by smearing them on a slide and analyzing them under a microscope. For patients with TTP, their red blood cells appear torn or broken.
With a blood smear test, experts can also count how many platelets are in the blood. For patients with TTP, their platelet count is extremely low.
Bilirubin is a substance formed from hemoglobin, the protein released when red blood cells die. High levels of bilirubin cause jaundice and can mean that TTP is causing too many red blood cells to die.
Blood Creatinine Test
Blood creatinine is a blood substance that is normally removed by the kidneys. For TTP patients, their blood creatinine levels may be high.
This test can tell whether TTP is causing anemia by determining if certain proteins are destroying red blood cells. If the test is negative, TTP is the cause.
Patients with TTP may have unusually high levels of protein or blood cells in their urine.
By drawing a small amount of blood from your arm, the OSUCCC – James experts can analyze the sample to determine if the ADAMTS13 enzyme (a protein in the blood) is active. Most cases of TTP are caused by a problem with this enzyme.
If you’ve been diagnosed with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a blood disorder specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.