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Tests for Lupus Blood Cell Abnormalities

Blood cell abnormalities often accompany Lupus. People suspected of having lupus are usually tested for anemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia.

  • Anemia – Tests for anemia include those for hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cell (RBC) counts. In addition, the levels of iron, total iron-binding capacity, and ferritin may be tested. At any time during the course of the disease, about 40 percent of patients with SLE will be anemic.

    The anemia may be caused by iron deficiency, gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, medications, and autoantibody formation to RBCs, or “chronic disease.” When first diagnosed, about 50 percent of patients have a form of anemia in which the concentration of hemoglobin and the size of the RBCs are normal. This is called normochromic-normocytic anemia, or “anemia of chronic disease.” Autoimmune hemolytic anemia, with a positive Coombs test, is much less common.
  • Leukopenia and Thrombocytopenia Abnormalities in the white blood cell (WBC) and platelet counts are an important indicator of SLE. Leukopenia, a decrease in the number of WBCs, is very common in active SLE and is found in 15 to 20 percent of patients.

    Leukopenia can occur from lupus or from prednisone. Thrombocytopenia, or a low platelet count, occurs in 25 to 35 percent of patients with SLE. This can be serious problem when platelet count is very low.

lupus blood test


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