How is aplastic anemia diagnosed?

Updated: Jan 29, 2021
  • Author: Sameer Bakhshi, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Aplastic anemia is diagnosed with blood and bone marrow studies. This condition is defined by the finding of a hypoplastic bone marrow that has fatty replacement and that may have relatively increased nonhematopoietic elements, such as mast cells. Careful examination is necessary to exclude metastatic tumor foci on biopsy, as occasionally metastatic tumor deposits may cause pancytopenia. Diagnosis also involves ruling out other causes of pancytopenia.

Carefully evaluate dysplasia to rule out myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), although some degree of dysplasia may be present in aplastic anemia. Because abnormal cytogenetic clones can occur in up to 12% of patients with aplastic anemia, the presence of some clones in otherwise typical cases of aplastic anemia does not necessarily signify a diagnosis of MDS or acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, the presence of the monosomy 7 clone indicates a high risk of transformation to MDS or AML. [5]


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