Background: beta-thalassemia screening is primarily limited to pregnant women. The ratio of the mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and red blood cell count (RBC) can be automatically calculated with any of the newer hematology analyzers.
Methods: The results of 398 patient screens were collected. Data from the set were divided into training and validation subsets. The Mentzer ratio was determined through a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve on the first subset, and screened for thalassemia using the second subset. HgbA2 levels were used to confirm beta-thalassemia.
Results: We determined the correct decision point of the Mentzer index to be a ratio of 20. Physicians can screen patients using this index before further evaluation for beta-thalassemia (P < .05).
Conclusion: The proposed method can be implemented by hospitals and laboratories to flag positive matches for further definitive evaluation, and will enable beta-thalassemia screening of a much larger population at little to no additional cost.