Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Thursday, May 8, 2014


This patient has high HCT.

The term polycythemia is a literal translation from Greek, meaning “too many cells in the blood,” and refers to an increase in the red cell mass; it is frequently used interchangeably with the term erythrocytosis. Polycythemia may be due to a myriad of causes. The polycythemias can be classified as relative and absolute. Relative polycythemia is a disorder in which the patient characteristically has a modest elevation of the hematocrit level without an elevated red cell mass but rather due to contraction of the plasma volume, whereas the absolute polycythemias are accompanied by an actual increase in the circulating red cell mass. Polycythemias can also be classified according to the responsiveness of their erythroid progenitor cells to growth factors or the circulating levels of such growth factors. Expert consult

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Image credits: Mary Couse Coulston

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