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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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