How is beta thalassemia differentiated from other causes of anemia?

Updated: Dec 19, 2018
  • Author: Pooja Advani, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

A major diagnostic consideration is to distinguish mild microcytic anemia due to beta-thalassemia carrier state from microcytic anemia due to other causes. Iron studies (iron, transferrin, ferritin) are useful in excluding iron deficiency and the anemia of chronic disorders as the cause of the patient's anemia.

Calculation of the Mentzer index (mean corpuscular volume per red cell count) may be helpful. A Mentzer index of less than 13 suggests that the patient has the thalassemia trait, and an index of more than 13 suggests that the patient has iron deficiency. [8]


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