Iron deficiency anaemia

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Iron deficiency anaemia develops as a result of a lack of iron during red blood cell (RBC) production. In small animal medicine, two causes of iron deficiency anaemia are commonly recognized: insufficient dietary iron and chronic blood loss. This chapter considers iron metabolism and pathophysiology; causes of iron deficiency; tests for evaluating iron status; treatment of iron deficiency.

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5.1 The body is able to reutilize iron from the breakdown of haemoglobin within mononuclear phagocytic cells. The iron binds to transferrin and is returned to the bone marrow and used to produce more haemoglobin. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons (www.livingart.org.uk) and is printed with her permission.
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5.3 Idealized histograms of normal (above) and iron deficient (below) canine erythrocytes. The widening of the curve in iron deficient erythrocytes represents a population of erythrocytes of varied size (microcytic, normocytic and, if the anaemia is regenerative, macrocytic erythrocytes). MCV, mean corpuscular volume; RDW, red cell distribution width.
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5.5 Hypochromic erythrocytes (arrows) and a codocyte (target cell, arrowhead).
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5.6 Schistocyte (arrow), hypochromic erythrocytes (arrowheads), codocyte (target cell; short arrow) and two platelets.
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5.7 A keratocyte, sometimes referred to as a ‘blister cell’ or ‘helmet cell’, is indicated by the arrow and is surrounded by several hypochromatic erythrocytes (arrowheads).
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5.8 Relationship between serum iron, total iron binding capacity (TIBC) and percentage saturation of transferrin.
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