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Questions about anaemia

Common anaemia exam questions for doctors and medical students 


How can causes of haemolysis be classified?

  • Congenital or acquired
  • Immune-mediated or non-immune mediated
  • Intravascular or extravascular

What are the common causes of a microcytic anaemia?

  • Overwhelmingly the most common is iron-deficiency
  • Thalassaemia
  • Sideroblastic anaemia
  • Lead poisoning

What are the common causes of a macrocytic anaemia?

  • B12 or folate deficiency
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Brisk bleeding or haemolysis
  • Hypothyroidism and alcohol cause macrocytosis, but not typically anaemia

What are the common causes of normocytic anaemia?

  • Renal failure
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Bone marrow failure

What proportion of the healthy population have a positive DAT?

  • Approximately 5%, so a positive DAT is not evidence of haemolytic anaemia, in the absence of other findings such as a raised bilirubin, LDH and reticulocyte count.


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