Pancytopenia is defined as lack of all types of blood cells. It includes deficiency of erythrocytes, leukocytes, platelets, and even reticulocytes. This blood cell disorder is seen in many hematological diseases, especially in megaloblastic anemia. Aplastic anemia is also a hematological disease characterized by bone marrow hypoplasia and pancytopenia .
Specific manifestations include the following:
- Anemia manifests as pale skin, palpitations, dyspnea, etc.
- Leukopenia results as frequent, reccurent infections and fever
- Thrombocytopenia causes easy bruising, nose bleeds, bleeding of gums and unexplained bleeding of the internal organs
Entire Body System
Figure 1: (a) 6yr/female diagnosed as Aplastic anemia. Bone marrow aspiration, (b) 6yr/female diagnosed as Aplastic anemia. Bone marrow biopsy Click here to view Figure 2: 35yr/male diagnosed as megaloblastic anemia. [mjdrdypu.org]
[…] leukemia (13.05%) and megaloblastic anemia (13.04%). [jahjournal.org]
Kumar et al (1999) found hypoplastic anemia (29.5%) to be the commonest cause followed by megaloblastic anemia [ 7 ]. [thejh.org]
- Refractory Anemia
Bone marrow aspiration revealed refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). We diagnosed the case as copper deficiency-induced pancytopenia and ESA hyporesponsiveness related to zinc excess. [jstage.jst.go.jp]
Peripheral blood flow cytometry to look for PNH should be performed on all patients with aplastic anemia, suspected PNH, and certain forms of MDS, including hypoplastic MDS and some refractory anemia patients. [cancertherapyadvisor.com]
It has been suggested that some of these cases may just simply be cases of refractory anemia. [mjmsr.net]
We also found a single (0.4%) case of pancytopenia due to MDS of Refractory Anemia with Excessive Blasts (RAEB) type. The incidence of MDS as reported in other similar studies varies from 0 to 18% (Table 2). [bmchematol.biomedcentral.com]
- Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection
The patient had a history of recurrent CDI, recurrent urinary tract infections, nephrolithiasis, chronic hepatitis C, and endometriosis. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
- Heat Intolerance
A 27-year-old male patient who presented to the emergency room with complaints of sweating, palpitations, heat intolerance, insomnia and weight loss for the last 3 months. His medical history was significant for hypertension. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
- Thyroid Bruit
On examination, he was tachycardic, hypertensive, had tremors of the upper extremities and a smooth goitre with a thyroid bruit. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
- Easy Bruising
HIV infection should also be ruled out especially if the patient presents with pancytopenia and a combination of fatigue, easy bruising, spontaneous bleeding, fever, rigors. [info.isabelhealthcare.com]
Leukopenia results as frequent, reccurent infections and fever Thrombocytopenia causes easy bruising, nose bleeds, bleeding of gums and unexplained bleeding of the internal organs Systemic and general symptoms may include weakness, exhaustion and loss [symptoma.com]
In addition to fatigue and easy bruising, the patient reports a history of unexplained lower extremity swelling and recurrent herpes infections. [hematology.org]
Abdominal fullness or discomfort due to splenomegaly is seen in 25% of cases.5,6 Easy bruising and bleeding secondary to severe pancytopenia are also seen in about 25% of cases.5,6 However, 25% of patients are initially asymptomatic and are found to have [mdedge.com]
Jaw & Teeth
- Bleeding Gums
Symptoms at presentation included: oral mucositis (n = 37); fever (n = 24); diarrhea (n = 12), bleeding gums (n = 5) and purpura (n = 3). [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
The list of symptoms is long, and each can vary in frequency and severity: Weakness Fatigue Skin problems, such as rashes or easy bruising Pale skin Rapid heart rate Shortness of breath Bleeding problems, such as bleeding gums, nosebleeds or internal [stjude.org]
More severe pancytopenia can cause symptoms including: shortness of breath pale skin fatigue weakness fever dizziness easy bruising bleeding tiny purple spots on your skin, called petechiae larger purple spots on your skin, called purpura bleeding gums [healthline.com]
To diagnose pancytopenia, bone marrow aspiration and biopsy are often necessary . Bone marrow in patients with pancytopenia has fatty replacement and may show relatively increased non-hematopoetic elements. Consider dysplasia as well, and exclude the possibility of metastatic tumor.
In peripheral blood smear in pancytopenia is obvious paucity of all types of blood cells. Levels of hemoglobin and hematocrit are low, but level of hemoglobin in particular erythrocytes is around normal. Life duration of red blood cells is shorter than usual. Number of leukocytes is also reduced, especially number of granulocytes (granulocytes more than lymphocytes, that's why "relative lymphocytosis" occurs). The absolute numbers of platelets and reticulocytes are also reduced.
Many peripheral blood tests exist and may be useful, such as hemoglobin electrophoresis and blood-group testing, fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) profiling, fluorescent-labeled inactive toxin aerolysin (FLAER) testing, histocompatibility testing, and many others .
Pancytopenia can be treated differently. In the beginning of disease, but often not for long, blood transfusion may help to improve blood count. After a while, effectiveness of transfusion decreases. In most cases, patients are treated with drugs. If pancytopenia is suspected to be idiopathic and result of autoimmune response, the best solution is to use immunosuppressant drugs, such as corticosteroids, cyclosporine A, cyclophosphamide, thymoglobulin, and others.
In many cases, bone marrow-stimulators can be helpful. This group of drugs includes epoetin alfa, filgrastim and sargramostim. In not many cases, and among younger patients, bone marrow transplantation, or therapy with stem cells may be an option. The advantage of bone marrow transplantation compared to other kinds of treatment has been established in multicentric trials .
The outcome of patients with pancytopenia is improving because of better supportive care. The mortality is around 50% in first year after diagnosing aplastic anemia, without any treatment, but for patients that are receiving immunosuppressive treatment, 10-year survival rate is 68%, and for those who get hematopoietic cell transplantation is even higher, and amounts 73% .
Pancytopenia can be idiopathic or secondary. In more than fifty percent of cases it is idiopathic, which means that the real cause of disorder is not actually known and detected . It may be a response of body's immune system to its own substances.
In other cases, cause is well known and proven. It can be one of the physical agents, chemical agents or drugs, or the result of allergic reaction or infection. Also, sometimes pancytopenia occurs as result of bone marrow infiltration with fibrin, or lipoid or malignant cells. Sometimes, even a physiological condition as pregnancy may lead to pancytopenia, although it's very rare .
Epidemiological studies have shown that the annual incidence of aplastic anemia in Europe is 2 cases per million population . In Asia, the incidence is higher . These studies have also shown that there is no racial or sexual predisposition for aplastic anemia. However, the incidence is slightly higher within younger patients (children and youth under age of 25).
When there is insufficiency of bone marrow, it becomes fatty and empty in pluripotent hematopoetic stem cells. Still it is not defined what causes this insufficiency, and many theories tried to explain it. According to one theory, there is abnormality in structure of hematopoietic stem cells. In others, abnormality of hematopoietic microenvironment is suggested. Most likely, it is a result of immune response to different antigens, whether they are originally from outside or inside the organism .
Pancytopenia is sometimes hereditary, and it is not possible to prevent it . But in other cases, when the environmental factor is well known and detected, pancytopenia can be prevented by simple avoiding exposure (that is possible when cause is radiation, or use of drugs such as chloramphenicol, aspirin, mezanthion).
Erythrocytes have main role in oxygenating body's tissues, leukocytes defend the body against microorganisms and other antigens, and platelets are needed in hemostasis and blood coagulation. In pancytopenia, the disorder is expected in particular blood cell function. The symptoms are numerous and may include weakness, fatigue, frequent infections, bruising or spontaneous bleeding. Treatment can be various and depends on the etiology. Blood transfusion, medications such as corticosteroids, immunosuppressant drugs, bone marrow-stimulating drugs, stem-cell therapy, or bone marrow transplantation are common options. Also, sometimes removing some environmental factors may help.
- Definition: Pancytopenia is deficiency of blood cells, including all types of cells (red, white and platelets). With bone marrow hypoplasia, it is main characteristic of some hematological diseases, such as aplastic anemia.
- Cause: It can be caused by environmental factors, such as radiation, microorganisms (especially viruses), some particular drugs, and then it is secondary pancytopenia, because the cause is known. However, in most cases it is idiopathic, which means that cause is not known or detected. It could be the immune response to antigens, but that is just one of many pathophysiological theories.
- Symptoms: The main symptoms are a result of blood cell function failure, and include tachycardia, weakness, pale skin (lack of red blood cells), frequent hyperthermia and infections (lack of white blood cells), unexplained bleeding, easy bruising (lack of platelets), and many others.
- Diagnosis: Blood count and peripheral blood smear are necessary for diagnosing pancytopenia. In vitro analyzing cultures of hematopoietic tissue (myelogram) also can be useful. Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy are almost always required.
- Treatment: There are several possibilities in treatment of pancytopenia - transfusion, immunosuppressive drugs and bone marrow-stimulating drugs, corticosteroids, antibiotics, bone marrow transplantation, and stem cell therapy.
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