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Keywords:

  • autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura;
  • intravenous immunoglobulin

Autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura is now commonly treated with high doses of intravenous immunoglobulins. Twenty-two years after this treatment was first shown to be effective, several questions remain. We review here current knowledge concerning the frequency and type of side-effects and the probable mechanism of action of intravenous immunoglobulins. We suggest that the currently recommended dose of intravenous immunoglobulins (2 g/kg body weight) could be halved, that the total dose of intravenous immunoglobulins should be administered as a single infusion, that non-responders could be given another equal dose on day 3, and that intravenous immunoglobulins plus prednisolone should be considered as the gold standard for treatment of the most severe forms of the disease. Finally, as intravenous immunoglobulins have only a transient effect, they cannot be considered as a curative treatment for patients with chronic autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura.