Pancytopenia due to iron deficiency worsened by iron infusion: a case report

J Med Case Rep. 2007 Dec 7:1:175. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-1-175.


Introduction: Iron deficiency anemia is commonly associated with thrombocytosis, although thrombocytopenia has been reported in occasional patients with iron-deficiency anemia. Much less common is the development of thrombocytopenia following replenishment of iron stores.

Case presentation: We present the unusual case of a 39 year old African American female Jehovah's Witness who presented with a 10 month history of menorrhagia and pancytopenia. Laboratory investigations confirmed a severe iron deficiency. Since blood transfusion was unacceptable to her, she was started on intravenous iron replacement therapy. This precipitated a sudden drop in both her platelet and white blood cell counts. Histopathological examination of the bone marrow revealed a hypercellular marrow with orderly trilineage hematopoiesis, iron deficiency anemia, granulocytic hyperplasia, and mild megakaryocytic hypoplasia. Both her white blood cell and platelet counts recovered uneventfully with continuing iron supplementation. The possible mechanism for this phenomenon is discussed in this report.

Conclusion: This case illustrates two rather uncommon associations of a very common problem. Severe iron deficiency anemia may be associated with pancytopenia and iron replacement may cause a transient decline in megakaryopoiesis and leukopoiesis. Severe iron deficiency should be added to the list of conditions leading to thrombocytopenia.