Etiological spectrum of pancytopenia based on bone marrow examination in children

Shazia Memon, Salma Shaikh, M Akbar A Nizamani
Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons—Pakistan: JCPSP 2008, 18 (3): 163-7

OBJECTIVE: To determine the spectrum of pancytopenia with its frequency, common clinical presentation and etiology on the basis of bone marrow examination in children from 2 months to 15 years.

DESIGN: Observational study.

PLACE AND DURATION OF STUDY: Department of Paediatrics, Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS), Jamshoro, from October 2005 to March 2007.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: All patients aged 2 months to 15 years having pancytopenia were included. Patients beyond this age limits, already diagnosed cases of aplastic anemia and leukemia, clinical suspicion of genetic or constitutional pancytopenia, history of blood transfusion in recent past, and those not willing for either admission or bone marrow examination were excluded. History, physical and systemic examination and hematological parameters at presentation were recorded. Hematological profile included hemoglobin, total and differential leucocyte count, platelet count, reticulocyte count, peripheral smear and bone marrow aspiration/biopsy.

RESULTS: During the study period, out of the 7000 admissions in paediatric ward, 250 patients had pancytopenia on their peripheral blood smear (3.57%). Out of those, 230 patients were finally studied. Cause of pancytopenia was identified in 220 cases on the basis of bone marrow and other supportive investigations, while 10 cases remained undiagnosed. Most common was aplastic anemia (23.9%), megaloblastic anemia (13.04%), leukemia (13.05%), enteric fever (10.8%), malaria (8.69%) and sepsis (8.69%). Common clinical presentations were pallor, fever, petechial hemorrhages, visceromegaly and bleeding from nose and gastrointestinal tract.

CONCLUSION: Pancytopenia is a common occurrence in paediatric patients. Though acute leukemia and bone marrow failure were the usual causes of pancytopenia, infections and megaloblastic anemia are easily treatable and reversible.

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