DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Spherocytosis. Jaundiced torso of a 37-year-old male patient with hereditary spherocytosis. This is a genetic condition where red blood cells (erythrocytes) lose their characteristic biconcave shape and become spherical. The red blood cells have reduced survival time and suffer haemolysis (disruption of the membrane and loss of haemoglobin). In addition to jaundice, spherocytosis causes fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath. Treatment is by splenectomy (removal of the spleen) after which the life span of red blood cells should become normal.
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