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Mixed-type autoimmune hemolytic anemia: differential diagnosis and a critical review of reported cases.

Transfusion 2008 October
BACKGROUND: Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) is usually classified as either warm or cold type. During the past few decades, mixed types (Mxs) have also been described in a number of cases (6%-8% of AIHA), often without serologic data to support the diagnosis. In this study, we demonstrate that the incidence of Mx AIHA in our institution is extremely rare.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Between August 1998 and August 2007, all in- and outpatients with detectable warm autoantibodies (WABs) were included in this study. Serologic testing was performed using standard techniques for the detection of red blood cell antibodies.

RESULTS: From a total of 2194 patients with detectable WABs, only 2 patients (<0.1%) developed both WABs and cold agglutinins (CAs), which in the presence of clinical evidence of hemolytic anemia, satisfies the criteria for Mx AIHA. Only 1 of these patients, however, showed cold and warm hemolysis. Insignificant CAs at temperatures of not more than 24 degrees C were found in 242 patients.

CONCLUSION: There is evidence that the presence of CAs with high thermal amplitude and WABs may lead to confusion and misdiagnosis in some patients with AIHA. This study demonstrates that Mx AIHA is less common than previously reported.

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