Poikilocytosis is variation in cell shape: poikilocytes may be oval, teardrop-shaped, sickle-shaped or irregularly contracted.
|Acanthocytosis is one form of poikilocytosis|
Normal red blood cells are round, flattened disks that are thinner in the middle than at the edges. A poikilocyte is an abnormally shaped cell. Generally, poikilocytosis can refer to an increase in abnormal red blood cells of any shape where they make up 10% or more of the total population.
Poikilocytosis may be diagnosed during a test called a blood smear. During a blood smear, a medical technologist spreads a thin layer of blood on a microscope slide and stains the blood to help differentiate the cells. The technologist then views the blood under a microscope, where the sizes and shapes of the RBCs can be seen.
In all cases, the treatment of poikilocytosis depends on its cause. For example, poikilocytosis can be caused by a vitamin deficiency (e.g. vitamin B12, folic acid), in which case the treatment is to replenish the deficient vitamin. It can be caused by a digestive disease, such as celiac disease, in which case the solution may lie in treating the underlying celiac disease so that nutrients can be properly absorbed.
The term derives from poikilos (ποικίλος), which means "varied" in Ancient Greek.