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Megaloblastic anemia in patients receiving total parenteral nutrition without folic acid or vitamin B12 supplementation.

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  • Research Article
  • Medicine


Pancytopenia developed in four patients receiving postoperatively total parenteral nutrition (TPN). Symptoms and signs were related mainly to underlying bowel disease. Hematologic abnormalities, first noted from 4 to 7 weeks following institution of TPN, consisted of normocytic anemia (mean decrease in hemoglobin value, 2.2 g/dL), occasional macrocytes being noted, leukopenia (range of leukocyte counts, 1.2 to 3.6 X 10(9) L), some hypersegmented neutrophils being detected, and clinically significant thrombocytopenia (range of platelet counts, 25 to 52 X 10(9)/L). In all patients the bone marrow showed megaloblastic changes, with ring sideroblasts, although pyridoxine was included in the TPN regimens. Serum vitamin B12 values were normal in one patient and at the lower limit of normal in the other two patients in whom it was measured, while serum or erythrocyte folate values, or both, were reduced in three patients. Full hematologic response was observed in the four patients after folic acid replacement therapy; leukocytosis and thrombocytosis were noted in three. Thus, folic acid and possibly vitamin B12 should be added routinely to TPN regimens to prevent deficiency of either substance.

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