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Overview Anisocytosis is the medical term for having red blood cells RBCs that are unequal in size. Anisocytosis is usually caused by another medical condition called anemia.
It may also be caused other blood diseases or by certain drugs used to treat cancer. For this reason, the presence of anisocytosis is often helpful in diagnosing blood disorders like anemia. Treatment for anisocytosis depends on the cause. Anisocytosis in turn is considered a symptom of many blood disorders.
Causes of anisocytosis Anisocytosis is most commonly a result of another condition called anemia. There might be too few RBCs, the cells might be irregular in shape, or they may not have enough of an important compound known as hemoglobin. There are several different types of anemia that can lead to unequally sized RBCs, including: Iron deficiency anemia : This is the most common form of anemia. It usually results in microcytic anisocytosis. Sickle cell anemia : This genetic disease results in RBCs with an abnormal crescent shape.
Thalassemia : This is an inherited blood disorder in which the body makes abnormal hemoglobin. Autoimmune hemolytic anemias : This group of disorders occur when the immune system mistakenly destroys RBCs. Megaloblastic anemia : When there are fewer than normal RBCs and the RBCs are larger than normal macrocytic anisocytosis , this anemia results. Pernicious anemia : This is a type of macrocytic anemia caused by the body not being able to absorb vitamin B Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disorder.
Other disorders that can cause anisocytosis include: chronic liver disease disorders of the thyroid In addition, certain drugs used to treat cancer, known as cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs, can result in anisocytosis.
Anisocytosis may also be seen in those with cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Diagnosing anisocytosis Anisocytosis is typically diagnosed during a blood smear. During this test, a doctor spreads a thin layer of blood on a microscope slide. The blood is stained to help differentiate the cells and then viewed under a microscope.
This way the doctor will be able to see the size and shape of your RBCs. If the blood smear shows that you have anisocytosis, your doctor will likely want to run more diagnostic tests to find out what is causing your RBCs to be unequal in size.
The doctor may also ask you questions about your diet. Other diagnostic tests may include:.
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