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J Clin Diagn Res. 2014 Aug;8(8):FC01-3. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2014/8949.4704. Epub 2014 Aug 20.

Role of absolute reticulocyte count in evaluation of pancytopenia-a hospital based study.

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Postgraduate, Department of Pathology, Sree Balaji Medical College & Hospital , Bharath University, Chrompet, Chennai, India .
Professor, Department of Pathology, Sree Balaji Medical College & Hospital , Bharath University, Chrompet, Chennai, India .



Pancytopenia is a common hematological entity encountered in our laboratory practice. Evaluating the causes of pancytopenia is essential for the diagnostic as well as therapeutic management of the patients. Absolute Reticulocyte count (ARC) plays a pivotal role in identifying the cause of pancytopenia in most of the cases but it has grossly been overlooked. Hence, we attempted to identify the significance of ARC as a deciding parameter in evaluating the causes of pancytopenia.


The study was conducted in a tertiary health care hospital, Chennai, India. A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted over a period of two years (2011-2013). Patients who satisfied the criteria for pancytopenia were evaluated with clinical details. Pancytopenia work-up including Peripheral blood picture, Complete blood counts, Reticulocyte count, Serum Ferritin, B12, Folate and Bone marrow aspirate was carried out. ARC was calculated and an algorithm to approach the cases of pancytopenia was derived considering ARC as the key factor.


A total of 429 cases of pancytopenia were evaluated and based on our algorithm results were tabulated. ARC was found to be <25x10^(9)/L for cases of Aplastic anaemia; 25-50x10^(9)/L for Nutritional anaemia; and, >100x10^(9)/L in Marrow infiltrative disorders and in cases of sepsis and malaria.


We found that ARC plays an important role in differentiating various causes of pancytopenia and hence should be routinely included in pancytopenia work up in order to avoid unnecessary bone marrow aspirations in pancytopenic patients.


Absolute reticulocyte count; Aplastic anaemia; Bone marrow aspiration; Mixed nutritional anaemias; Pancytopenia; Reticulocyte percentage

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