Absolute Neutrophil Count


Absolute neutrophil count is a term that means the number of neutrophil granulocytes within someone’s blood. Since you obviously cannot calculate this number by just guessing or looking, it requires a lab test to see the actual number. An individuals absolute neutrophil count (ANC) is determined on the number of white blood cells. It is often combined with the percentage of mature or immature neutrophils that are also present. Immature neutrophils, known as bands, and mature neutrophils can be higher or lower than average. If the number is too high or low, it can indicate that a medical condition is present.

How an Absolute Neutrophil Count Works

When an absolute neutrophil count is done, it is completed by multiplying the white blood cell count times the percent of neutrophils that are present in the blood. For this number, a normal range of an absolute neutrophil count is 1.5 to 8.0. This number is also written as 1,500 to 8,000/mm3. As long as the patient has a safe level of ANC, no other medication or physical restrictions are necessary.

What do Doctors Use an Absolute Neutrophil Count For?

In your body, neutrophils are designed to fight infections or viruses. If your neutrophil count drops too low, it means that your body has become more vulnerable to a potential illness or infection. Often, a lower neutrophil account occurs after someone has had a blood transfusion, chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant or radiation treatment. As new blood cells are created and mature, a low neutrophil cunt should increase. If the absolute neutrophil count is lower than 500, you have a low neutrophil count. This could be caused by a variety of conditions, so make sure to consult with your doctor about potential causes.

Potential Causes of a Low ANC

Pre-leukemia or Leukemia: One of the causes of a low absolute neutrophil count is due to leukemia. This type of cancer causes bone marrow to become replaced by white blood cells. Before you are diagnosed with leukemia, you may have a drop in neutrophils, which indicates that your body is in a pre-leukemia stage.

Medication: Depending on the type of medication that you take, you could end up with a low neutrophil count. Medications that are designed to treat vomiting, nausea, psychosis and allergies are commonly at fault.

Folic Acid Deficiency: Also known as vitamin B12, folic acid is necessary for your body to run properly. When you have a low level of folic acid in your body, it can result in problems with producing neutrophils.

Felty’s Syndrome: This type of disorder is caused when some cells change abnormally. It is a type of immune disorder and normally occurs alongside rheumatoid arthritis.

Aplastic Anemia: When you have an abnormal drop in blood cells, this is known as aplastic anemia. Caused by factors like infections, medication and radiation, it causes the bone marrow to stop functioning properly.

Hypersplenism: This medical ailment is when the spleen becomes abnormally large and white blood cells are over-produced. The spleen uses these additional white blood cells to remove old red blood cells and to prevent an infection from happening.

Autoimmune Diseases: A wide range of autoimmune diseases can cause problems with neutrophils. The body creates proteins called antineutrophils in these diseases, and it ends up destroying the neutrophils present.

Dialysis: When the kidneys are not functioning properly, dialysis is used to help them. Through dialysis, you may develop a low neutrophil count.

Cardiopulmonary Bypass: When you have this procedure, it shunts blood away from the heart and lungs, which causes a drop in neutrophils.

A Serious Bacterial Infection: If you have a severe bacterial infection, it can destroy neutrophils in your body.

Treatment Options

Depending on the source of neutropenia, your doctor may prescribe a variety of different treatment options. Some of these treatments may include:

Corticosteroid Therapy: This uses two hormones normally produced in the adrenal gland to boost neutrophil health.

Administration: This technique tracks the growth of white blood cells in the body.

Intravenous Immune Globin: If the cause of your low neutrophil count is medication, this is the common treatment option.

Antibiotics: When your low count is caused by an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

Granulocyte Transfusion: A transfusion of granulocytes increases the number of white blood cells present in your body.

High Absolute Neutrophil Count Causes and Treatments

If your neutrophil count is above 8,000, it is considered high. This can be caused by some of the following conditions:

Eclampsia: This condition is rare, and occurs among pregnant women following a severe case of preeclampsia. Generally, it takes place in the second portion of the pregnancy and occurs with symptoms like edema, high blood pressure and protein in the urine.
Medication: Medication like corticosteroids can cause neutrophil counts to rise.
Bacterial Infection: A sudden, severe bacterial infection can cause tissues to become inflamed and neutrophil levels to rise.
Polycythemia Vera: This condition causes red blood cells to increase, but its cause is unknown.
High Stress Levels: When stress rises, it excites the nerves and can cause neutrophil levels to increase.
Cancer: Neutrophil counts rise in response to cancer.
Kidney Failure: Sudden kidney failure can cause high neutrophil counts.
Myeloid Metaplasia: This medical condition occurs when bone marrow begins to form in abnormal locations.
Ketoacidosis: This is caused when acids are made in the body. Over the long term, it can cause neutrophil levels to increase.
Hemolytic Anemia: Red blood cells are destroyed earlier than they are supposed to, and these cells are supposed to take oxygen throughout the body.