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Haemolytic Jaundice

  •  Haemolytic jaundice

    This is a yellowish pigmentation of the skin, tissues, or white of the eyes and certain body fluids caused by the deposition of bile pigments, especially bilirubin that follows interference with normal production and discharge of bile (as in certain liver diseases) or excessive breakdown of red blood cells (as after internal hemorrhage or in various hemolytic states) which is called icterus and any disease or abnormal condition (as hepatitis A or leptospirosis) that is characterized by jaundice also referred to medically as icterus.

    The liver isn't guilty

    Many of us are aware that one of the visible symptoms of jaundice is the obvious yellowish colouration of the skin and the white of the eyes. This invariably points to an elevated amount of bilirubin in the blood. However, many medical students as well as students of biochemistry can be too hasty in misinterpreting diagnostic results and inferring that a liver dysfunction and/or a possible bile duct obstruction may have been responsible for all jaundice cases they’ve come across.

    Haemolytic jaundice is one of the types of jaundice that occurs as a result of increased red cell destruction (note that the degradation of hemoglobin yields heme, which is in turn catabolized to bilirubin). Here, most liver function tests are within the normal ranges, but the levels of unconjugated bilirubin will be markedly elevated. Also, levels of urine and fecal bilinogens are increased as well.

    This disease can occur in newborns as a result of Rh incompatibilities between mother and foetus, often referred to as erythroblastosis fetalis. Haemolytic jaundice can also occur in adults as a consequence of: Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, some drugs and xenobiotics, congenital spherocytosis, among others.

    To conclude, not all cases of jaundice suggest an underlying liver problem. However, it must be stated that accurate and precise laboratory diagnosis is required to determine the root cause of any type of jaundice.

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