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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Describing a Red Blood Cell Population Using RBC Indices and Red Cell Distribution Width. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Pathophysiologic Classification of Anemias

The pathophysiologic classification system of anemia is divided into two broad categories. These categories are based on the underlying cause of the decrease in RBCs in the circulation. The categories are:
  1. Anemia caused by decreased production of RBCs.
  2. Anemia caused by increased destruction or loss of RBCs.
Destruction of RBCs after release from the bone marrow occurs as a result of either an intracorpuscular abnormality or an extracorpuscular abnormality. Intracorpuscular abnormalities are the consequence of an abnormality in the red cell membrane, an enzyme, or globin chain (inherited condition). Extracorpuscular abnormalities are those that are secondary to a clinical condition (acquired condition).
The table below summarizes the pathophysiologic classification of anemia and provides examples in each category.