Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a rare disorder caused by autoreactive red blood cell (RBC) antibodies that destroy RBCs. Although autoimmune hemolytic anemia is rare, RBC autoantibodies are encountered frequently and can complicate transfusion workups, impede RBC alloantibody identification, delay distribution of compatible units, have variable clinical significance that ranges from benign to life-threatening, and may signal an underlying disease or disorder. In this review, we discuss the common presenting features of RBC autoantibodies, laboratory findings, ancillary studies that help the pathologist investigate the clinical significance of autoantibodies, and how to provide appropriate patient care and consultation for clinical colleagues. Pathologists must be mindful of, and knowledgeable about, this entity because it not only allows for direct clinical management but also can afford an opportunity to preemptively treat an otherwise silent malignancy or disorder.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Medical Laboratory Technology