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Agranulocytosis

Definition

Agranulocytosis means a failure of the bone marrow to make enough white blood cells (neutrophils). Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside bones that helps form blood cells.

Alternative Names

Granulocytopenia; Granulopenia

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Agranulocytosis may be caused by:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Bone marrow diseases such as myelodysplasia or large granular lymphocyte leukemia
  • Chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation
  • Medications such as rituximab, penicillin, captopril, ranitidine, cimetidine, methimazole, and propylthiouracil
  • Preparation for bone marrow transplant

Agranulocytosis results in a person not having enough of a specific type of white blood cells, called neutrophils or granulocytes. A low neutrophil count (neutropenia) may also occur when white blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be produced.

Symptoms

Persons with this condition are more likely to have fevers and infections.

Signs and tests

See: Blood differential test

References

Andersohn F, Konzen C, Garbe E. Systematic review: agranulocytosis induced by nonchemotherapy drugs. Ann Intern Med. 2007;146:657-665.

Berliner N. Leukopenia and leukocytosis. In Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 170.


Review Date: 6/5/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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