Screening for hereditary spherocytosis by use of automated erythrocyte indexes

J Pediatr. 1997 Jun;130(6):957-60. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(97)70283-x.


Objective: To determine whether the mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) or other erythrocyte indexes, as determined by automated cell counters, remains a useful screening test for identifying patients with hereditary spherocytosis (HS).

Methods: Erythrocyte indexes from 112 children with HS who had not undergone splenectomy were compared with those measured in an equal number of healthy, age-matched children. All indexes were derived from measurements obtained by aperture impedance.

Results: Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration in the HS group was 35.9 gm/dl, significantly higher than in normal control subjects (34.3 gm/dl; p < 0.001). Mean erythrocyte distribution width also was significantly higher in patients with HS (19.3 vs 12.6; p < 0.001). The MCHC distinguishes individuals with HS, with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.86. Although not disease specific, an erythrocyte distribution width > 14 has 85% sensitivity and 97% specificity and an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.92. An MCHC > 35 gm/dl has a sensitivity of 70% and a specificity of 86%. Combining the MCHC and erythrocyte distribution width increases the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve to 0.97. Specificity is 100% and likelihood ratio is infinite when both the MCHC and erythrocyte distribution width are elevated.

Conclusions: The automated MCHC is an effective screening test to identify children with HS. An elevated erythrocyte distribution width adds additional specificity and is itself a powerful screening tool. The combination of the two tests is an excellent predictor for the diagnosis of HS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Erythrocyte Indices*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Reticulocyte Count
  • Spherocytosis, Hereditary / diagnosis*
  • Splenectomy