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QJM. 2013 Nov;106(11):1003-8. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hct137. Epub 2013 Jul 9.

The acute haemolytic syndrome in Wilson's disease--a review of 22 patients.

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  • 1Address correspondence to J.M. Walshe.


An analysis of 321 case notes of patients with Wilson's disease seen between 1955 and 2000 and one case seen in 1949 has revealed that 22 patients presented with a haemolytic crisis. This study was not a specific research project but a retrospective analysis of 321 patients with Wilson's disease seen between 1949 and 2000. All investigations were carried out in the best interests of diagnosis and management of patients referred to my clinic. The delay in diagnosis in 18 cases resulted in progression to severe hepatic disease in 14 cases and to neurological disease in 4 cases. One patient had no symptoms at the time her sister's illness was diagnosed as Wilson's disease. In a second patient, with liver disease, the diagnosis was also made when a sister was found to have Wilson's disease. There was a female to male ratio of 15:7. The average age of onset was 12.6 years and the incidence 6.9%. Delay in diagnosis resulted in nine deaths. Three patients, late in the series, were admitted in the acute phase, two female and one male; of these two responded to chelation therapy, the third required liver transplantation. Haemolysis appeared to be extravascular, and possible mechanisms of the haemolysis are discussed.

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