The autoimmune hemolytic anemias (AIHA) are rare but important hematologic diseases. They can range in severity from mildly symptomatic illness to a rapidly fatal syndrome. The incidence of AIHA is estimated to be between 0.6 and 3 cases per 100,000 persons. AIHA is mediated by antibodies, and in the majority of cases immunglobulin (Ig) G is the mediating antibody. This type of AIHA is referred to as "warm" AIHA because IgG antibodies bind best at body temperature. "Cold" AIHA is mediated by IgM antibodies, which bind maximally at temperatures below 37°C. This manual reviews the most common types of AIHA, with emphasis on diagnosis and treatment.
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