Generally, Anemia is described as lack of appropriate number of red blood cells (RBCs) in the blood, therefore a person with low blood count is considered by physicians as anemic.
According to doctors, there are three types of anemia depending upon the blood disorders. Aplastic anemia is one of them. It is a condition where bone marrow does not produce sufficient new cells to replenish blood cells. Exposure to ionizing radiation from radioactive materials or radiation-producing devices is also associated with the development of aplastic anemia.
Aplastic anemia is also sometimes associated with exposure to toxins such as benzene, or with the use of certain drugs, including chloramphenicol, carbamazepine, felbamate, phenytoin, quinine, and phenylbutazone. Many drugs are associated with aplasia mainly according to case reports but at a very low probability.
As the name suggests, it involves both aplasia and anemia. Usually, anemia refers to low red blood cell counts, but aplastic anemia patients have lower counts of all three blood cell types: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, termed pancytopenia.
Aplastic anemia(AA) is a rare disease, with an incidence of only 1–2 per million population per year in the West. The treatment options involve immunosuppressive therapy and bone marrow transplantation.
The diagnosis is mainly based on bone marrow examination. Before this procedure is undertaken, a patient will generally have had other blood tests to find diagnostic clues, including a complete blood count (CBC), renal function and electrolytes, liver enzymes, thyroid function tests, vitamin B12 and folic acid levels.
Bone marrow aspirate and biopsy, X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, or ultrasound imaging, liver, viral infestions, antibodies tests are done in determining differential diagnosis for aplastic anemia.
Treating immune-mediated aplastic anemia involves suppression of the immune system, an effect achieved by daily medicine intake, or, in more severe cases, a bone marrow transplant, and a potential cure.
Untreated aplastic anemia is an illness that leads to rapid death, typically within six months. If the disease is diagnosed correctly and initial treatment is begun promptly, then the survival rate for the next five to ten years is substantially improved, and many patients live well beyond that length of time.
Well-matched bone marrow transplants from siblings have been successful in young, otherwise healthy people, with a long-term survival rate of 80%-90%. Most successful BMT recipients eventually reach a point where they consider themselves cured for all practical purposes, although they need to be compliant with follow-up care permanently. Older people (who are generally too frail to undergo bone marrow transplants) and people who are unable to find a good bone marrow match, who undergo immune suppression have five year survival rates of up to 75%.