Canterbury DHB



This is a vast and complex area and you are referred to standard texts as well as Up-To-Date. For a review of the pathophysiology of Beta thalassaemia, see Swee Thein (ASH EPB 2005, 31-37).

Both alpha and beta thalassaemia traits may look like iron deficiency on the blood film. A useful guide is to look at the haemoglobin and MCV. In iron deficiency they both tend to fall together, e.g. Hb 80, MCV 65. In thalassaemia trait the MCV is low, often in the 60s, but the haemoglobin is usually only slightly reduced. For example, an adult male may have a haemoglobin of 110 to 120 and an MCV of 65. This is quite different from the results seen in iron deficiency.

Note: Polycythaemia patients who are also iron deficient may show a similar relatively high haemoglobin and low MCV. Clinical circumstances enable thalassaemia to be excluded here.

About this Canterbury DHB document (7949):

Document Owner:

Not assigned (see Who's Who)

Last Reviewed:

November 2019

Next Review:

November 2022


Note: Only the electronic version is controlled. Once printed, this is no longer a controlled document. Disclaimer

Topic Code: 7949