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Woman With Recent Respiratory Tract Infection and Anemia

Woman With Recent Respiratory Tract Infection and Anemia

This article was originally presented as an independent educational activity under the direction of CME LLC. The ability to receive CME credits has expired. The article is now presented here for your reference. CME LLC is no longer responsible for the presentation of the article.

A 50-year-old woman presents to the emergency department with severe dizziness, weakness, and dyspnea of 1 week’s duration. Ten days earlier, an upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) was diagnosed; over-the-counter cough syrup and acetaminophen were prescribed. However, the patient’s condition has steadily deteriorated since then. In addition, her urine has darkened over the past few days.


The patient is obese and has hypertension and depression. She takes enalapril, hydrochlorothiazide, and a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.


Vital signs are stable and normal, except for a heart rate of 108 beats per minute. Conjunctivae are pale and mucous membranes are moist; no oropharyngeal lesions are evident. Chest is clear, and heart is normal. An abdominal examination reveals no masses or organomegaly; bowel sounds are normal. Lymph nodes at all sites are nonpalpable, and skin is normal.


On admission, a complete blood cell count reveals a hemoglobin level of 4.9 g/dL, a hematocrit of 15.4%, a white blood cell count of 17,400/μL, and a platelet count of 404,000/μL. A chemistry profile reveals a slightly elevated serum creatinine level of 1.8 mg/dL and a blood urea nitrogen level of 26 mg/dL. Lactate dehydrogenase level is elevated at 386 U/L, and haptoglobin level is low at 8 mg/dL. Total bilirubin level is normal. Results of a direct antiglobulin test (Coombs test) are positive +2 for C3 and negative for IgG.

Which of the following statements about this patient is most accurate?

A. She needs urgent bone marrow evaluation for the possibility of a lymphoproliferative disorder.
B. Treatment of the patient’s URTI will help ameliorate her severe anemia.
C. The patient’s anemia is caused by an antibody to i-antigen on red blood cells.
D. She needs urgent splenectomy for resolution of her hemolytic process.

(answer on next page)


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