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Investigation of patients with polycythaemia.
  1. T. C. Pearson,
  2. M. Messinezy
  1. Division of Haematology, St. Thomas' Hospital, London, UK.


    Polycythaemia may complicate or be the presenting feature of a wide variety of different pathologies. Early diagnosis and treatment of primary polycythaemia will significantly reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with this condition. Patients with a raised packed cell volume are divided into those with a raised red cell mass (absolute polycythaemia), and those with a red cell mass within their normal range (apparent polycythaemia). A standard investigative approach of an absolute polycythaemia enables patients with primary and secondary polycythaemia to be identified, leaving a group termed idiopathic erythrocytosis. There are a number of physiological situations and pathological events associated with idiopathic erythrocytosis and apparent polycythaemia. Careful follow-up of both groups of these patients is essential to identify possible causative mechanisms.

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