Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology
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Effect of megaloblastic anemia on hemoglobin A2 and diagnosis of β-thalassemia trait


1 Department of Pathology, Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
2 Department of Pediatrics, Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

Correspondence Address:
Nageswar Sahu,
Department of Pathology, Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisha - 751 024
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijpm.ijpm_233_21

Context: β-thalassemia trait is usually diagnosed by raised hemoglobin A2 (HbA2). The presence of megaloblastic anemia can cause an increase in HbA2 and create a diagnostic dilemma. Here, we have analyzed the effect of vitamin B12 and folic acid supplementation on HbA2 and diagnosis of β-thalassemia trait in cases of megaloblastic anemia with raised HbA2. Methods and Material: Cases of megaloblastic anemia with raised HbA2 on high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) were supplemented with vitamin B12 and folic acid. Post-treatment evaluation was done after 2 months. Cases showing adequate hematological response were subjected to statistical analysis. Based on post-treatment HbA2 value, the cases were diagnosed as normal, borderline raised HbA2, or β-thalassemia trait. Pre- and post-treatment values of red cell parameters and HbA2 were analyzed. Results: There was a significant decrease in HbA2 value after vitamin B12 and folic acid supplementation. The diagnosis was changed in 70.97% of the cases after treatment. The chance of inconclusive diagnosis was decreased from more than 50% to less than 10%. Pre-treatment mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and HbA2% showed a significant difference between the thalassemic and normal groups. Conclusions: Megaloblastic anemia can lead to false-positive diagnosis of β-thalassemia trait on HPLC. Repeat HPLC should be done after adequate supplementation of vitamin B12 and folic acid in cases of megaloblastic anemia with raised HbA2. Red cell parameters are not helpful to suspect β-thalassemia trait in presence of megaloblastic anemia. However, HbA2% on HPLC can be a useful parameter to suspect or exclude β-thalassemia trait in cases of megaloblastic anemia.


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    -  Sahoo S
    -  Sahu N
    -  Das P
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