What is the role of lab studies in the workup of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH)?

Updated: May 20, 2021
  • Author: Emmanuel C Besa, MD; Chief Editor: Sara J Grethlein, MD, FACP  more...
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The tests involved in establishing the diagnosis of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) demonstrate the presence of red blood cells (RBCs) that are exceptionally sensitive to the hemolytic action of complement. These tests include the following:

  • Flow cytometry
  • Acidified serum lysis and Ham test
  • Complement lysis sensitivity test
  • Sugar water or sucrose lysis test

Most laboratories no longer perform the Ham test or the sugar water test.

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