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IVIG Treatment for ITP

What is IVIG?

Intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) is a therapy for immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). It is a clear liquid given into a vein (IV).

Immune globulins are proteins made by the immune system to fight germs. IVIG is prepared using blood from blood donors.

Your child might get IVIG if they have:

  • ITP and bleeding symptoms
  • Very low platelet counts

How IVIG works

In ITP, cells in the spleen destroy platelets because the platelets are coated with antibodies. Platelets are a type of blood cell that keep the body from bleeding too much.

IVIG contains antibodies that bind to the cells in the spleen. This keeps the spleen from destroying platelets. When more platelets stay in the blood, your child’s platelet count will go up.

How IVIG is given

IVIG is given into a vein by IV. The infusion takes several hours and starts at a slow rate. The rate is gradually increased as long as your child has no side effects. If your child has side effects, IVIG might be given more slowly or stopped. 

Side effects of IVIG

Side effects of IVIG can happen during or after the treatment.

Possible side effects that can start during the treatment:

  • Fever and chills
  • Skin rash
  • Mild pain in the chest, back, hip, other joints, or muscles
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Allergic reaction with itching, skin redness, severe chills, breathing problems, low blood pressure, and pain in the chest, side, or back
  • Headache

Possible side effects that usually start more than a day after treatment:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin rash

To decrease side effects, your care team will give other medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) before giving IVIG. The care team will give you medicines to use at home to decrease side effects.

Your child might have other side effects that are not listed. Tell your child’s doctor or nurse about any side effects your child has. 

Key Points

  • Intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) is a treatment for immune thrombocytopenia (ITP).
  • IVIG is given by IV infusion over several hours.
  • IVIG works to slow down the destruction of platelets.
  • Your child will get medicine such as Tylenol® or Benadryl® to help with side effects.

Reviewed: September 2022