What is Pancytopenia?
(10 months ago)
New Delhi , Sept 1 : Pancytopenia is a medical condition, which is said to occur when there is a deficiency of the red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood platelets collectively. It is a combination of the three major haematological conditions called anaemia (low level of red blood cells), leukopenia (low level of white blood cells), and thrombocytopenia (low levels of blood platelets).
These blood cells have specific functions required for the body to perform at optimum conditions, relating to transportation of oxygen, immunity of the body, and clotting of the blood. It usually accompanies serious life-threatening illnesses like drug-induced bone marrow hypoplasia and other bone marrow responses to non-hematologic related conditions.
"While mild cases of pancytopenia do not usually manifest with symptoms, severe cases can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, easy bruising, fever, and dizziness," said Dr Mahesh R, consultant hematologist and BMT physician at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals, adding, "Purple spots known as petechiae or purpura can also appear on the skin of the patient. These symptoms are associated with the presence of anaemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia. If symptoms get too severe, there is also a chance seizures and loss of consciousness. Pancytopenia can also cause complications like excess bleeding and increased risk of infections."
"The occurrence of pancytopenia can be traced to problems with the bone marrow, the area where blood cells are produced. Cancers affecting the bone marrow, leukaemia, aplastic anaemia, autoimmune diseases and viral infections like sepsis can present pancytopenia as an added complication. Exposure to harmful chemicals and radiation, present in chemotherapy and the external environment can also cause this condition," he continued.
If the doctor suspects the presence of this condition, the first step to diagnosis is the assessment of family and personal medical history. A complete blood count will be performed to check the levels of the red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood platelets; if found abnormal, a peripheral blood smear will be conducted. A bone marrow aspiration and biopsy will also be performed to check for abnormalities. If this condition is confirmed, the treatment options include medication to stimulate blood cell production within the bone marrow, blood transfusions, and antibiotics.
Depending in the severity of the condition, and the other medical complications associated with it and conditions present, a bone marrow transplant may also be required.
Dr Mahesh R concluded by saying, "Since pancytopenia is related to other medical conditions, it is not a preventable condition. However, through good hygiene practices and avoidance of drugs, alcohol, and chemicals associated with this condition, the risk of developing this condition may be lessened."