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World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Oct 7;15(37):4627-37.

Classification of anemia for gastroenterologists.

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Department of Hematology, University Hospital Lozano Blesa, University of Zaragoza, C/San Juan Bosco 15, Zaragoza 50009, Spain.


Most anemia is related to the digestive system by dietary deficiency, malabsorption, or chronic bleeding. We review the World Health Organization definition of anemia, its morphological classification (microcytic, macrocytic and normocytic) and pathogenic classification (regenerative and hypo regenerative), and integration of these classifications. Interpretation of laboratory tests is included, from the simplest (blood count, routine biochemistry) to the more specific (iron metabolism, vitamin B12, folic acid, reticulocytes, erythropoietin, bone marrow examination and Schilling test). In the text and various algorithms, we propose a hierarchical and logical way to reach a diagnosis as quickly as possible, by properly managing the medical interview, physical examination, appropriate laboratory tests, bone marrow examination, and other complementary tests. The prevalence is emphasized in all sections so that the gastroenterologist can direct the diagnosis to the most common diseases, although the tables also include rare diseases. Digestive diseases potentially causing anemia have been studied in preference, but other causes of anemia have been included in the text and tables. Primitive hematological diseases that cause anemia are only listed, but are not discussed in depth. The last section is dedicated to simplifying all items discussed above, using practical rules to guide diagnosis and medical care with the greatest economy of resources and time.

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