Items in AFP with MESH term: Erythrocyte Indices
Anemia in Children - Article
ABSTRACT: Anemia in children is commonly encountered by the family physician. Multiple causes exist, but with a thorough history, a physical examination and limited laboratory evaluation a specific diagnosis can usually be established. The use of the mean corpuscular volume to classify the anemia as microcytic, normocytic or macrocytic is a standard diagnostic approach. The most common form of microcytic anemia is iron deficiency caused by reduced dietary intake. It is easily treatable with supplemental iron and early intervention may prevent later loss of cognitive function. Less common causes of microcytosis are thalassemia and lead poisoning. Normocytic anemia has many causes, making the diagnosis more difficult. The reticulocyte count will help narrow the differential diagnosis; however, additional testing may be necessary to rule out hemolysis, hemoglobinopathies, membrane defects and enzymopathies. Macrocytic anemia may be caused by a deficiency of folic acid and/or vitamin B12, hypothyroidism and liver disease. This form of anemia is uncommon in children.
Evaluation of Macrocytosis - Article
ABSTRACT: Macrocytosis, generally defined as a mean corpuscular volume greater than 100 fL, is frequently encountered when a complete blood count is performed. The most common etiologies are alcoholism, vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies, and medications. History and physical examination, vitamin B12 level, reticulocyte count, and a peripheral smear are helpful in delineating the underlying cause of macrocytosis. When the peripheral smear indicates megaloblastic anemia (demonstrated by macro-ovalocytes and hyper-segmented neutrophils), vitamin B12 or folate deficiency is the most likely cause. When the peripheral smear is non-megaloblastic, the reticulocyte count helps differentiate between drug or alcohol toxicity and hemolysis or hemorrhage. Of other possible etiologies, hypothyroidism, liver disease, and primary bone marrow dysplasias (including myelodysplasia and myeloproliferative disorders) are some of the more common causes.
Alpha and Beta Thalassemia - Article
ABSTRACT: The thalassemias are a group of inherited hematologic disorders caused by defects in the synthesis of one or more of the hemoglobin chains. Alpha thalassemia is caused by reduced or absent synthesis of alpha globin chains, and beta thalassemia is caused by reduced or absent synthesis of beta globin chains. Imbalances of globin chains cause hemolysis and impair erythropoiesis. Silent carriers of alpha thalassemia and persons with alpha or beta thalassemia trait are asymptomatic and require no treatment. Alpha thalassemia intermedia, or hemoglobin H disease, causes hemolytic anemia. Alpha thalassemia major with hemoglobin Bart's usually results in fatal hydrops fetalis. Beta thalassemia major causes hemolytic anemia, poor growth, and skeletal abnormalities during infancy. Affected children will require regular lifelong blood transfusions. Beta thalassemia intermedia is less severe than beta thalassemia major and may require episodic blood transfusions. Transfusion-dependent patients will develop iron overload and require chelation therapy to remove the excess iron. Bone marrow transplants can be curative for some children with beta thalassemia major. Persons with thalassemia should be referred for preconception genetic counseling, and persons with alpha thalassemia trait should consider chorionic villus sampling to diagnose infants with hemoglobin Bart's, which increases the risk of toxemia and postpartum bleeding. Persons with the thalassemia trait have a normal life expectancy. Persons with beta thalassemia major often die from cardiac complications of iron overload by 30 years of age.
Evaluation of Anemia in Children - Article
ABSTRACT: Anemia is defined as a hemoglobin level of less than the 5th percentile for age. Causes vary by age. Most children with anemia are asymptomatic, and the condition is detected on screening laboratory evaluation. Screening is recommended only for high-risk children. Anemia is classified as microcytic, normocytic, or macrocytic, based on the mean corpuscular volume. Mild microcytic anemia may be treated presumptively with oral iron therapy in children six to 36 months of age who have risk factors for iron deficiency anemia. If the anemia is severe or is unresponsive to iron therapy, the patient should be evaluated for gastrointestinal blood loss. Other tests used in the evaluation of microcytic anemia include serum iron studies, lead levels, and hemoglobin electrophoresis. Normocytic anemia may be caused by chronic disease, hemolysis, or bone marrow disorders. Workup of normocytic anemia is based on bone marrow function as determined by the reticulocyte count. If the reticulocyte count is elevated, the patient should be evaluated for blood loss or hemolysis. A low reticulocyte count suggests aplasia or a bone marrow disorder. Common tests used in the evaluation of macrocytic anemias include vitamin B12 and folate levels, and thyroid function testing. A peripheral smear can provide additional information in patients with anemia of any morphology.
Anemia in Older Persons - Article
ABSTRACT: Anemia in older persons is commonly overlooked despite mounting evidence that low hemoglobin levels are a significant marker of physiologic decline. Using the World Health Organization definition of anemia (hemoglobin level less than 13 g per dL [130 g per L] in men and less than 12 g per dL [120 g per L] in women), more than 10 percent of persons older than 65 years are anemic. The prevalence increases with age, approaching 50 percent in chronically ill patients living in nursing homes. There is increasing evidence that even mild anemia is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Anemia warrants evaluation in all older persons, except those at the end of life or who decline interventions. About one third of persons have anemia secondary to a nutritional deficiency, one third have anemia caused by chronic inflammation or chronic kidney disease, and one third have unexplained anemia. Nutritional anemia is effectively treated with vitamin or iron replacement. Iron deficiency anemia often is caused by gastrointestinal bleeding and requires further investigation in most patients. Anemia of chronic inflammation or chronic kidney disease may respond to treatment of the underlying disease and selective use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents. The treatment of unexplained anemia is difficult, and there is little evidence that treatment decreases morbidity and mortality, or improves quality of life. Occasionally, anemia may be caused by less common but potentially treatable conditions, such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia, malignancy, or myelodysplastic syndrome.
Evaluation of Microcytosis - Article
ABSTRACT: Microcytosis is typically an incidental finding in asymptomatic patients who received a complete blood count for other reasons. The condition is defined as a mean corpuscular volume of less than 80 µm3 (80 fL) in adults. The most common causes of microcytosis are iron deficiency anemia and thalassemia trait. Other diagnoses to consider include anemia of chronic disease, lead toxicity, and sideroblastic anemia. Serum ferritin measurement is the first laboratory test recommended in the evaluation of microcytosis. Low ferritin levels suggest iron deficiency. Once a presumptive diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia has been made, an underlying source for the deficiency should be determined. Iron deficiency anemia in adults is presumed to be caused by blood loss; the most common source of bleeding is the gastrointestinal tract. The possibility of gastrointestinal malignancy must be considered. If the serum ferritin level is not initially low, further evaluation should include total iron-binding capacity, transferrin saturation level, serum iron level, and possibly hemoglobin electrophoresis. Anemia of chronic disease is suggested with low iron levels and decreased total iron-binding capacity. Patients with beta-thalassemia trait usually have elevated levels of hemoglobin A2.