Evaluation of Macrocytosis in Routine Hemograms

Indian J Hematol Blood Transfus.2013 Mar;29(1):26-30.

P. Veda


Macrocytosis, a condition in which erythrocytes are larger than normal manifests as an increase in mean corpuscular volume (MCV) more than 100 fl. The aim of this study was to identify the underlying causes of macrocytosis, detected in routine hemograms and to evaluate the hematological features in different etiologies. This study included 178 adult patients whose detailed medical history was recorded, and Vitamin B12 assay, folate assay, thyroid function tests, liver function tests, complete blood counts and peripheral smear evaluation was performed. Alcoholism was identified as the etiological factor in 65 cases (36.5%), Vitamin B12 deficiency in 43 cases (24.1%) and drug related in 23 cases (12.9%). These three conditions accounted for 73.6% of macrocytosis. Other causes identified were folate deficiency, liver disease, Myelodysplastic syndrome, chronic renal failure and Aplastic anemia. In 41 cases, the cause of macrocytosis could not be explained. Anemia was observed in 95 cases (53.3%) being most common in Vitamin B12 deficiency. 9 cases (20.9%) of Vitamin B12 deficiency presented with isolated macrocytosis without anemia. It was observed that mean hemoglobin was lower and red cell distribution width (RDW) higher in megaloblastic conditions. Peripheral smear revealed hypersegmented neutrophils in 86% and macro-ovalocytes in 72% of the megaloblastic cases. Complete medical history, red cell parameters and peripheral blood smear are simple, inexpensive tools which assist in identifying the underlying cause of macrocytosis, particularly in resource limited settings. Macrocytosis needs to be evaluated even in the absence of anemia, as it may be the first clue to an underlying pathology.



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