Poikilocytosis and its signs and symptoms

Poikilocytosis and its signs and

Poikilocytosis is a condition of red blood cells in which the red blood cells are the major part of blood. These deformed red blood cells are also known as poikilocytosis, so this condition is named so. To know what a deformed red blood cell looks like, you must know what exactly a normal red blood cell looks like. A normal red blood cell is a very small disc-like structure, and instead of having a plain surface, it has a convex surface. The design is at the center of red blood cells and is very small. So, knowing what a normal cell looks like is how you will be able to identify the normal cells.


Poikilocytosis is when the red blood cells within the person’s blood are not of normal shape. The abnormality in the shape of red blood cells related to poikilocytosis can be described as follows.

  • The surface of the red blood cells is flatter.
  • While the shape of red blood cells, instead of circular disc-shaped, is more oval and tear-shaped.
  • A normal red blood cell has a smooth surface, but the poikilocytosis has some pointy projection on its surface.
  • Along with this, so e other abnormal features are also part of red blood cells in poikilocytosis.

Due to this reason, the red blood cells in your body are of abnormal shape and may not perform their function well. The main role of the red blood cells I to carry the oxygen through the blood vessels in different areas of the body. But in this condition, what happens is that due to the abnormal shape of the red blood cells, they cannot carry enough oxygen all over the body. When the cells are not equipped to carry oxygen, the effect o the body will be major. Poikilocytosis is not a disease but an effect or condition caused as a reaction to a disease. There are some different diseases and causes behind the poikilocytosis phenomenon.

What causes poikilocytosis

Poikilocytosis can be caused by anemia, hereditary disease, liver disease, and alcoholism. There can be two main reasons behind poikilocytosis. One can be an acquired disease, and that means a disease that has occurred to you later in your life. The other reason is the inherited disease, and this defect in your body is present there by birth.

Acquired poikilocytosis

Following are the lists of reasons behind the acquired poikilocytosis

  • Iron deficiency anemia and Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia can cause poikilocytosis, and that can be treated by taking iron or Vitamin B-12.
  • Autoimmune diseases like autoimmune hemolytic disease are also responsible, and this disease can be controlled by giving immunosuppressants.
  • Chemotherapy treatment
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Severe infections
  • Cancer
  • Myelofibrosis

Inherited Poikilocytosis

Following are some of the examples of inherited causes behind poikilocytosis

  • McLeod Syndrome
  • Thalassemia
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Hereditary elliptocytosis
  • Hereditary spherocytosis
  • Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency

All these are the hereditary causes behind poikilocytosis.

Symptoms of poikilocytosis

Symptoms of poikilocytosis

Now you know the possible and probable causes of poikilocytosis. You must know what happens during this condition and how you can suggest poikilocytosis. Following are all the possible signs and symptoms that point towards this condition.

  • Pale skin because you will look anemic
  • Weakness in your whole body due to lack of enough oxygen
  • Shortness of breath as your brain sends signals to the lungs to inhale more air.
  • Fatigue due to the very same reason.

All in all, the lack and deficiency of enough oxygen reaching different parts of your body are what6 causes these signs to appear. The first culprit in such a case is considered to be the lungs, but when that has been ruled out, it is important to check your blood. Based on the underlying cause of this condition, the signs and symptoms may vary as well. Apart from all these signs and symptoms, some of the tests will truly diagnose this situation, including a CBC test and bone marrow biopsy. Apart from that, each disease has its differential diagnosis tests that the doctor will like to be performed.

Different types of poikilocytosis

Poikilocytosis is a vast term that means the deformity of red blood cells. This condition is further divided into different types based upon the type of deformity. Following are some of the types of poikilocytosis.

  • Spherocytes don’t have a light-colored center and are not flat either.
  • Leptocytes are small and thin and are wafer-like.
  • Elliptocytes are oval-shaped instead of being normal circular shape.
  • Echinocytes have tiny projections and are not smooth.
  • In Schizocytes, the fragments or RBCs were forming.
  • Sickle cells have crescent shapes.
  • Stomatocytes are not the round ones and have a slit.
  • Codocytes are those that look like a bull’s eye.

Treatment of poikilocytosis

The treatment of poikilocytosis mainly depends on the underlying cause of this situation. When you face any deficiency like iron or Vitamin-B12, you need to intake more iron and Vitamin B 12. Doctors need to treat the underlying cause behind this condition rather than directly address this because it is in no way possible to address poikilocytosis directly. A blood transfusion may be needed in some cases like thalassemia. In some diseases where there is no possible treatment, you have to get a blood transfusion because the red blood cells already being produced by your body have an abnormal shape. Blood transfusion remains the only solution in that case.


This is all you need to know about the poikilocytosis condition. Poikilocytosis is when red blood cells in your body are abnormal, and this condition can result from different diseases in your body. Treatments to some conditions causing this are available. For the other problems where there are no treatments available, a blood transfusion might help.


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