Anisocytosis: What It Is, How It Is Diagnosed, And What To Do

Anisocytosis is the name given to the difference in size of some cells, mainly red blood cells, also known as our red blood cells, or erythrocytes.

Red blood cells are our blood cells responsible for carrying hemoglobin, transporting oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of our body, as well as being responsible for transporting carbon dioxide that will be eliminated through the lungs.

Since our red blood cells play such an important role in our process of breathing and gaseous exchanges, the alterations and conditions that concern them should not be left aside, deserving certain care and attention.

Something important to clarify is that anisocytosis is not exactly considered a disease. It is better understood as a symptom, a factor that demonstrates that something is not working as it should in the body.

Thus, anisocytosis cannot be treated directly, however, what is causing it can and should be investigated and treated whenever possible.

How the diagnosis works

Like many other health problems, the diagnosis is mainly based on the analysis of symptoms and blood tests.

Regarding the analysis of symptoms, there are some signs that our body gives that may indicate some blood imbalance (such as anisocytosis), among them we can mention:

As for blood tests, anisocytosis can be discovered by performing blood counts, with assessments of the RDW parameter, or by analyzing the size of red cells under a microscope.

With the analysis of the RDW parameter, it is considered an indication of anisocytosis when the results are above 14%.

Regardless of the way, the exam should be requested by a doctor, as a way to complement the analysis of the symptoms, creating a more complete diagnosis.

What can cause anisocytosis

Causes of Anisocytosis

Once we understand that anisocytosis is better considered a symptom than a disease, there is a question that remains: after all, what can cause anisocytosis?

The disparity in the size of red cells in our blood can occur due to different health problems, such as anemia, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, thalassemia (a type of hereditary anemia), changes in liver function and even some cases of cancer.

In addition to health problems themselves, anisocytosis can also occur as a result of some treatments, such as chemotherapy or antiviral treatments.

Another not very uncommon case of occurrence of anisocytosis is during pregnancy, due to some processes that occur in the body during pregnancy, as we will see in more detail in the next section.

Anisocytosis during pregnancy

Normally, anisocytosis in pregnancy is discovered during prenatal exams, and is not usually considered rare or even very serious for the mother or the baby – which does not mean that it does not need some attention.

Anisocytosis during pregnancy usually occurs due to a greater need for cells in the blood to irrigate the uterus, placenta and consequently the fetus, therefore it is normal for a greater production of red cells to occur in our body.

Due to this increased production, it is not uncommon for red blood cells of different sizes to be found in the blood stream, a condition known clinically as anisocytosis.

types of anisocytosis

Anisocytosis is classified into three main types:

  • Discrete: occurs when the rate of cells with changes in their size does not exceed 25% of the concentration of red blood cells in the sample (and by probability, of the organism as a whole).
  • moderate: cases of moderate anisocytosis refer to when the altered cells are in a concentration between 25 and 50% of the total number of red blood cells in the collected sample.
  • accentuated: these are the cases in which the number of modified cells is greater than that of healthy cells (which have a size within the expected range). Cases of up to 75% of cells with changes in size may occur in the same sample.

Anisocytosis: what to do

consult a doctor

The main way to treat anisocytosis is to find out what is causing it, and then treat the condition or disease that is causing uneven red blood cell production.

Therefore, if you receive a diagnosis of a blood count demonstrating the disparity in your red cells (with the RDW result above 14%), seek the doctor who ordered the test for a deeper analysis to be carried out.


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