ISSN 2398-2950      

Anemia: laboratory investigation

ffelis

Introduction

  • Anemia is a symptom of disease NOT a diagnosis.
  • Identification of anemia on a blood screen demands further investigation to characterize the type and establish the etiology of the anemia.

Is the patient anemic?

  • Anemia is an absolute decrease, of more than 2 standard deviations below the normal mean at normal blood volume, in at least one of:
  • Once the cat is hydrated hematological parameters should be reassessed.
  • Normal hematological parameters may be present in animals with acute hemorrhage in the first 24-36 hours, ie animals become hypovolemic but lose all constituents of blood in equal quantities.
  • Volume support should be given and PCV monitored at regular intervals to establish severity of anemia, and response.
  • The spleen may falsely elevate or reduce the degree of anemia:
    • Contraction   →   rapid bolus of stored RBC released.
    • Relaxation   →   splenic storage of RBC, removing them from circulation (rare).

Signalment

Clinical signs

  • Weakness.
  • Lethargy/inappetance/anorexia.
  • Secondary signs associated with primary cause of anemia, eg FeLV or renal failure.
  • Fever with FIA.
  • Evidence of hemorrhage.
  • Discolored urine (hematuria Hematuria, hemoglobinuria).
  • Disease may be subclinical.

Clinical examination

  • Pale mucous membranes.
  • Tachycardia.
  • Bounding pulse.
  • Heart murmur.

Laboratory investigation

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Is the anemia regenerative?

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What is the cause of the anemia?

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Is there evidence of hemolysis?

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Is the anemia non-regenerative?

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Harvey J W (2000) Microcytic anemias. In: Schalm's Veterinary Hematology. 5th edn. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia. pp 200-204.
  • Mills J (2000) Anaemia. In: Manual of Canine and Feline Haematology and Transfusion Medicine.1st edn. May M J, Mackin A & Littlewood J D (eds), BSAVA Publiscations, Gloucester, pp 29-42.

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