(See also Overview of Decreased Erythropoiesis Overview of Decreased Erythropoiesis Anemia, a decrease in the number of red blood cells (RBCs), hemoglobin (Hb) content, or hematocrit (Hct), can result from decreased RBC production (erythropoiesis), increased RBC destruction... read more .)
Myelophthisic anemia occurs when bone marrow space is infiltrated and replaced by nonhematopoietic or abnormal cells such as tumor cells or when bone marrow is replaced by fibrosis.
Descriptive terms used in this anemia can be confusing. Myelofibrosis, which is replacement of marrow by fibrous tissue bands, may be
Primary due to a bone marrow cancer. Primary myelofibrosis Primary Myelofibrosis Primary myelofibrosis (PMF) is a chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by bone marrow fibrosis, splenomegaly, and anemia with nucleated and teardrop-shaped red blood cells. Diagnosis... read more is a hematopoietic stem cell defect in which the fibrosis is a result of mutations in the JAK2 (Janus kinase 2), CALR (calreticulin), or MPL (myeloproliferative leukemia virus oncogene) gene.
Secondary due to causes outside the bone marrow, such as chronic autoimmune disease, or as a secondary process when marrow is infiltrated by tumor.
Myelosclerosis is new bone formation that sometimes accompanies myelofibrosis.
Myeloid metaplasia refers to extramedullary hematopoiesis in the liver, spleen, or lymph nodes that may accompany myelophthisis due to any cause.
An old term, agnogenic myeloid metaplasia, indicates primary myelofibrosis with myeloid metaplasia.
Etiology of Myelophthisic Anemia
The most common cause of myelophthisic anemia is
Replacement of bone marrow by metastatic cancer
Cancers most often involved include breast or prostate; less often kidney, lung, adrenal, or thyroid cancers are the cause. Extramedullary hematopoiesis tends to be modest.
Other causes include myeloproliferative disorders such as primary myelofibrosis Primary Myelofibrosis Primary myelofibrosis (PMF) is a chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by bone marrow fibrosis, splenomegaly, and anemia with nucleated and teardrop-shaped red blood cells. Diagnosis... read more or myelofibrosis evolving from polycythemia vera Polycythemia Vera Polycythemia vera is a chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by an increase in morphologically normal red cells (its hallmark), but also white cells and platelets. Ten to 15% of... read more or essential thrombocythemia Essential Thrombocythemia Essential thrombocythemia (ET) is a myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by an increased platelet count, megakaryocytic hyperplasia, and a hemorrhagic or microvascular vasospastic tendency... read more , granulomatous diseases, and lipid storage diseases such as Gaucher disease Gaucher Disease Gaucher disease is a sphingolipidosis, an inherited disorder of metabolism, resulting from glucocerebrosidase deficiency, causing deposition of glucocerebroside and related compounds. Symptoms... read more or other causes of marrow fibrosis.
Decreased functional hematopoietic tissue due to bone marrow infiltration is the main cause of anemia.
Symptoms and Signs of Myelophthisic Anemia
Myeloid metaplasia may result in splenomegaly, particularly in patients with storage diseases. In severe cases, symptoms of anemia and of the underlying disorder may be present. Massive splenomegaly can cause abdominal pressure, early satiety, cachexia, portal hypertension Portal Hypertension Portal hypertension is elevated pressure in the portal vein. It is caused most often by cirrhosis (in developed countries), schistosomiasis (in endemic areas), or hepatic vascular abnormalities... read more , and left upper quadrant abdominal pain; hepatomegaly may be present. Hepatosplenomegaly is rare with myelofibrosis due to malignant tumors.
Diagnosis of Myelophthisic Anemia
Complete blood count (CBC), red blood cell (RBC) indices, reticulocyte count, and peripheral smear
Bone marrow examination
Myelophthisic anemia is suspected in patients with normocytic anemia, particularly when splenomegaly or a potential underlying cancer is present. If it is suspected, a peripheral smear Peripheral smear Anemia is a decrease in the number of red blood cells (RBCs) as measured by the red cell count, the hematocrit, or the red cell hemoglobin content. In men, anemia is defined as any of the following... read more should be done, because a leukoerythroblastic pattern (immature myeloid and erythroid cells such as myelocytes and metamyelocytes, and normoblasts or other nucleated RBCs) suggests myelophthisic anemia. Extramedullary hematopoiesis or disruption of the marrow sinusoids causes release of immature myeloid cells and nucleated red cells into the periphery. Abnormally shaped RBCs, typically teardrop-shaped (dacrocytes), are also present.
Anemia, usually moderate to severe, is characteristically normocytic but may be slightly macrocytic. RBC morphology may show extreme variation (anisocytosis and poikilocytosis) in size and shape. The white blood cell count may vary. The platelet count is often low, and platelets are often large and bizarre in shape.
Although examination of peripheral blood can be suggestive, diagnosis usually requires bone marrow examination Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy Anemia is a decrease in the number of red blood cells (RBCs) as measured by the red cell count, the hematocrit, or the red cell hemoglobin content. In men, anemia is defined as any of the following... read more . Indications include a leukoerythroblastic pattern and unexplained splenomegaly. The marrow may be difficult to aspirate; marrow trephine biopsy is usually required. Findings vary according to the underlying disorder. Erythropoiesis is normal or increased in some cases. Hematopoiesis may be present in the spleen and liver.
X-rays, if obtained incidentally, may disclose bony lesions (myelosclerosis) characteristic of long-standing myelofibrosis or other osseous changes (ie, osteoblastic or lytic lesions of a tumor), suggesting the cause of anemia.
Treatment of Myelophthisic Anemia
Treatment of underlying disorder
Transfusions as needed
For primary myelofibrosis, bone marrow transplantation
The underlying disorder is treated. Management is supportive with transfusions Blood Products Whole blood can provide improved oxygen-carrying capacity, volume expansion, and replacement of clotting factors and was previously recommended for rapid massive blood loss. However, because... read more .
Myelophthisic anemia is a normocytic-normochromic anemia that occurs when normal marrow space is infiltrated and replaced by nonhematopoietic or abnormal cells.
The most common cause is replacement of bone marrow by metastatic cancer; other causes include myeloproliferative disorders, granulomatous diseases, and lipid storage diseases.
Suspect myelophthisic anemia in patients with normocytic anemia and characteristic findings on peripheral smear, particularly in those with splenomegaly or a known causative disorder; confirm with bone marrow examination.
Treat the cause and transfuse as needed.