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January 1949


Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery and Medicine, University of Chicago.

Arch Surg. 1949;58(1):16-27. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1949.01240030019002

IDIOPATHIC thrombopenic purpura is a symptom complex characterized by petechial hemorrhages, thrombopenia, impaired clot retraction and prolonged bleeding time. Widespread internal hemorrhages may occur and cause the death of the patient. The symptom complex is frequently encountered, but the more seriously affected patients are comparatively rare.

Although Werlhof1 is generally considered as having described this disease first, in 1775, it was Brohm2 who, in 1883, first observed thrombopenia in a case of purpuric disease. It has been assumed that Werlhof's patient had thrombopenia; hence, the disease bears his name. Interest has centered chiefly on the role of blood platelets in this disease.

The existence of platelets was recognized by several workers in the early nineteenth century, but for many years their existence as real or as artificial blood elements was in controversy. It was the result of the collective researches of Zimmerman,3 Schultze,4 Osler,5 Bizzozero