Idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic anemia

Alternative Names

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia; Anemia – idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic

Definition of Idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic anemia

Idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a drop in the number of red blood cells due to increased destruction by the body’s defense (immune) system.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic anemia is an acquired disease that occurs when antibodies form against a person’s own red blood cells. In the idiopathic form of this disease, the cause is unknown.

Signs and tests

An examination may reveal an enlarged spleen.

Treatment

The first therapy tried is usually a steroid medication, such as prednisone. If steroid medications do not improve the condition, removal of the spleen (splenectomy) may be considered.

Expectations (prognosis)

Adults may have long-term disease that keeps returning. In children the anemia is usually short-lived.

Review

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant 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

Antibodies

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

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