Hemolytic anemia

Alternative Names

Anemia – hemolytic

Definition of Hemolytic anemia

Hemolytic is a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells in the blood, due to the premature destruction of red blood cells. There are a number of specific types of hemolytic anemia, which are described individually.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Hemolytic anemia occurs when the bone marrow is unable to increase production to make up for the premature destruction of red blood cells. If the bone marrow is able to keep up with the early destruction, anemia does not occur (this is sometimes called compensated hemolysis).

Signs and tests

These are tests for red blood cell destruction (hemolysis). Specific tests can identify the types of hemolytic anemia. They are usually performed when hemolysis is suspected or has been determined.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the type and cause of the hemolytic anemia. Folic acid, iron replacement, and corticosteroids may be used. In emergencies, a blood transfusion or removal of the spleen (splenectomy) may be necessary.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome depends on the type and cause of hemolytic anemia.

Review

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assitant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 1/31/2010

Red blood cells, sickle cell
Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells
Red blood cells, sickle cells
Red blood cells, sickle and pappenheimer
Blood cells

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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