Red Blood Cell Disorders | Diagnosis & Treatment

How are red blood cell disorders diagnosed?

Red blood cell (RBC) disorders may be suspected based on the general findings of a complete medical history and physical exam. Depending on the type of RBC disorder a child has, their doctor may order a variety of blood and genetic tests to confirm the diagnosis. After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.

How are RBC disorders treated?

Treatment largely depends on the specific type of RBC that is present and may include:

  • nutritional supplements (e.g. iron, folate, vitamin B12)
  • splenectomy — surgical removal of the spleen
  • medications to alter the immune system (e.g. corticosteroids, intravenous immunoglobulin)
  • hydroxyurea therapy for sickle cell disease
  • blood transfusions

What is the long-term outlook for a child with an RBC disorder?

The long-term outlook for children with RBC disorders depends on the specific type of disorder. Many children with these diseases can be successfully treated. Certain disorders can increase the risk for damage or deficits to other organ systems (e.g. neurological deficits in polycythemia, or liver damage in hemochromatosis.