If you hear something described as being "idiopathic," that means we do not know the cause of the condition. "Idiopathic thrombocytic purpura" ("ITP") or "idiopathic scoliosis" would be examples of this usage.

Note that in the first case of ITP, we now actually do know what causes the condition, but the name remains in general usage, at least for the time being. Eventually, the generally accepted name of the condition will probably become a more descriptive "auto-immune thrombocytic purpura." So actually, idiopathic means we simply do not know the cause yet, or we do know the cause but doctors still generally find it more convenient to use the older name.

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