Pathology Consultation on Drug-induced Hemolytic Anemia

Arand Pierce, MD; Theresa Nester, MD


Am J Clin Pathol. 2011;136(1):7-12. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Drug-induced immune hemolytic anemia is considered to be rare but is likely underrecognized. The consulting pathologist plays a critical role in integrating serologic findings with the clinical history, as drug-induced antibodies should be distinguished as either drug-dependent or drug-independent for appropriate clinical management. Drug-dependent antibodies (DDABs) are most commonly associated with cefotetan, ceftriaxone, and piperacillin, whereas fludarabine, methyldopa, β-lactamase inhibitors, and platinum-based chemotherapeutics are frequent causes of drug-independent antibodies (DIABs). DDABs usually demonstrate a positive direct antiglobulin test and a negative elution, while DIABs are serologically indistinguishable from warm autoantibodies and are similarly steroid-responsive. Drug cessation is always recommended.


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