Pancytopenia – Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Is the sight of blood coming out of your nose shocking you out of your senses? Are you also suffering from fatigue, headache and increased heart rate? You may be having Pancytopenia, a condition characterized by a reduction of blood cells.

Pancytopenia Definition

What is Pancytopenia? Medical experts define Pancytopenia as a health condition that involves a drop in the number of erythrocytes (red blood cells), leukocytes (white blood cells) and platelets in the bloodstream.

Pancytopenia is different from other diseases that are marked by blood cell reduction. The condition is often mistaken for Anemia that involves a drop in red blood cell count. It is also misidentified with Leukopenia which is characterized by a low level of white blood cells. Pancytopenia, however, involves a drop in all the different types of blood cells and platelets.

Pancytopenia is also known as Bone Marrow Failure Syndrome. This is because the condition results from a failure of the bone marrow or decreased bone marrow production.

Pancytopenia Symptoms

Pancytopenia sufferers display a number of abnormalities apart from low blood cell and platelet count. These signs and symptoms of Pancytopenia are mostly internal in nature even though some are visible from the outside as well. Some of the major Pancytopenia signs and symptoms are:


Decreased blood cell levels cause tiredness in people suffering from this condition.


The low blood cell count can make the person vulnerable to complicated conditions like infections.

Nose Bleeding

Pancytopenia patients commonly suffer from bleeding through the nose which becomes a cause for concern for them.

Increased Menstrual Bleeding

Women suffering from this health syndrome often experience excessive bleeding during their menstrual periods.


Excessive bleeding may lead to hemorrhage in some people.


Petechiae pictures
Picture 1 – Petechiae
Source – calicutmedicaljournal

Hemorrhage in blood vessels may give rise to tiny red spots in the skin called petechiae.


There is a visible paleness in the skin of the affected people.

Rapid Heart Beat

The suffering persons may also experience an increased heart rate.

Shortness of Breath

The patient may also suffer from a shortness of breath. Reduced breathing rate may be a cause of concern as may also be an indication of other health conditions like pulmonary embolism or pneumonia. In serious cases, it may also be a symptom of an impending heart attack.

Pancytopenia Causes

Pancytopenia may result from a variety of factors. Some of the main causes of Pancytopenia are:

Bone Marrow Diseases

Diseases that affect bone marrow, such as Leukemia, impact new blood cell production and may lead to Pancytopenia.

Radiation Exposure

Exposure to radiation can also damage the bone marrow and cause the condition.

Autoimmune Disorders

Diseases affecting immunity, such as HIV, often appear as one of the major Pancytopenia causes. These days, in most cases of Pancytopenia HIV is being found to be the prime cause.


Certain medications have also been found to cause a drop in blood cell count and give rise to this disorder. Some of the major drugs causing Pancytopenia include a few types of :

  • Antibiotics
  • Cytotoxics
  • Anti thyroid medications
  • Non steroid medicines
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Heart medicines
  • High blood pressure medicines

If you are having symptoms that resemble this condition, you can consult your doctor to know about the drugs that cause Pancytopenia. This will let you check if any of your recent medications has caused the condition.


Congenital reasons are also believed to be a factor behind the development of this condition.

Medical Conditions

Different medical syndromes like malignant osteoporosis, lymphohistiocytosis, dyskeratosis congenita and leishmaniasis are also considered to be causes for this disorder.


Infections caused by B and C Hepatitis viruses are also thought to cause this disease.

In some rare situations, measles causes Pancytopenia. Other diseases that may induce the condition are Hepatitis A, Parainfluenza and Influenza.

Pancytopenia Diagnosis

The condition is generally diagnosed by a blood test to check any reduction in blood cell count. A biopsy of the bone marrow is also done to make sure that the symptoms are not resulting from any other disease like leukemia, anemia or thrombocytopenia.

Pancytopenia Treatment

The treatment of Pancytopenia is done by finding out the real cause of the symptoms. After a proper diagnosis reveals the reason behind the symptoms the person is suffering from, a treatment is carried out. If the underlying condition is found to be Pancytopenia, the treatment usually consists of medications. With proper medications and management, the blood count level goes up once again.

In rare cases, a bone marrow transplant may also be carried out.

Patients are usually advised to take rest during their treatment for Pancytopenia. Doctors also advise affected persons to avoid environments that may expose them to microbes. This is because reduced blood cell count makes them more vulnerable to infection. If Pancytopenia is found to have been caused by some earlier medication, it is stopped and changed with a course of some other drug.

After the condition has been treated, patients may have to undergo periodic blood tests. In people suffering from Pancytopenia tests are necessary to make sure that the levels of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets are normal.

If you are already suffering from Pancytopenia, it may be an indication of bone marrow damage. Leaving Pancytopenia untreated may leave you vulnerable for infection and increase risks for you to suffer from complicated health conditions in future. So if you are suffering from the disease or have a dear one who is having it, it is best that you seek medical attention as soon as possible to avoid future complications.


One Response

  1. Christopher Lauron August 10, 2011

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