Can rituximab replace splenectomy in immune thrombocytopenic purpura?

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Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is an autoimmune disorder characterized by premature platelet destruction. Standard practice is to initiate treatment with corticosteroids, followed by splenectomy. Most published literature for responses from rituximab is in patients with chronic refractory ITP, who have failed multiple prior treatments, including splenectomy. We therefore decided to analyze our patient population with ITP who had been treated with rituximab, mainly as a second line treatment regimen prior to splenectomy.


We performed a retrospective chart review of patients with a diagnosis of ITP who had been treated with rituximab between January 2001 and December 2006 at our institution.


18/29 patients (62%) had a CR, 2/29 (7%) patients had a PR, representing an overall response rate of 69%. The average time to response was 5 weeks and all patients have maintained their response for more than 12 months after treatment with rituximab.


Our study shows higher CR, comparable overall response rates, but with a longer duration of response when compared to the published literature.