Immune hemolysis is defined as the shortened survival of red blood cells (RBCs) resulting from an immune reaction. Hemolysis may not result in anemia if bone marrow compensation is sufficient. There are many causes of hemolysis other than immune reactions. The diagnosis of hemolytic anemia depends on the clinical findings and laboratory data such as:
- Increased reticulocyte count
- Abnormal RBC morphologies
- Elevated unconjugated (indirect) bilirubin
- Reduced or absent serum haptoglobin levels
The serologic findings in the blood bank help to determine if the hemolysis is immune-mediated and what type of immune hemolytic anemia may be present. This is important since treatment options vary with each type.