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05 Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA)




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This article is from the Canine Medical Information FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore with numerous contributions by others.

05 Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA)

This disease is only partially understood at this time. See also
http://www.vetinfo.com/dimmune.html#IMHA.

Symptoms include:
* pale gums, possibly yellow in severe cases
* yellow feces (from bile pigments)
* red or orange-brown urine (but may look normal)

Procedures to reverse this condition include various chemotherapies,
steroids, cyclosporin, and blood transfusions. However, the only
"tried and tested" treatment is corticosteroid therapy. Other
cytotoxic drugs, like cyclosporin, cyclophosphamide, azathioprine and
danazol are recommended by various people, generally because somebody
else recommended them somewhere else. Their actual benefit seems
uncertain. The general consensus is that cyclophosphamide is the best
of these drugs to use.

Blood transfusions are the topic of much controversy. One school of
thought is that the animal is likely to hemolyse the transfusion, so
blood should be tranfused only in lifethreatening situations. The
other school argues that transfusions have never been proven to be
dangerous in this disease (and goes on to assume that they are
therefore safe).

There are two types of AHA: primary, where the system destroys its own
red blood cells for no apparent reason, and secondary, where the red
cell membrane is changed (perhaps by a virus or parasite) and is then
destroyed as abnormal. Prognosis for secondary AHA is much better and
depends on how well the underlying cause can be treated. The prognosis
for primary AHA is much worse, with only 50% of the animals living
beyond 12 months.


 

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