Neutrophils are a type of white blood cells in your immune system that attack bacteria and other organisms when they invade your body. People with neutropenia have an unusually low number of neutrophils, which are created by bone marrow. They then travel in your bloodstream and move to areas of infection where they ingest and then neutralize the offending bacteria.
Neutropenia itself often doesn’t cause symptoms. In some cases, people only learn they have neutropenia when they have a blood test for an unrelated reason. It is most commonly seen–and even expected–as a result of the cancer treatment chemotherapy. But some people may have other symptoms from infection. Infections can occur as a complication of neutropenia. They occur most often in the mucous membranes.
Infections can appear as:
- Wounds that take a long time to heal
Fevers are also a common symptom of infection. In a neutropenic fever, it is common not to identify the exact cause, which is often normal gut bacteria that has made its way into the blood from weakened barriers. Neutropenic fevers are usually treated with antibiotics, even if an infectious source can’t be identified. This is important because the weakened immune system means patients can get very sick very quickly.
Often, diagnosis of Neutropenia is difficult. Since it’s a very rare condition, its symptoms are frequently assumed and confused with other conditions or diseases.
· Blood Testing
Early misdiagnosis is a common issue for patients and families with Neutropenia. Physicians generally will need to run a Complete Blood Count (CBC). Physicians should also do a blood test to exclude autoimmune Neutropenia by testing for neutrophil antibodies.
Bone Marrow Testing
If initial blood tests indicate Neutropenia the next step in diagnosis is a bone marrow examination. Neutropenia can be determined by viewing a sample of marrow under a microscope. The patient is usually asleep under general anesthetic or under local anesthetic with sedation.
· Cytogenic and Molecular Testing
Cytology is the study of cells and their structures. Studying the hereditary properties of cells and chromosomes can help narrow down any abnormalities in the marrow cells.
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- 24 Aug 2018
- FOSRX/FAST Services