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Home :: Heinz bodies

Heinz Bodies Test

Heinz bodies are particles of decomposed hemoglobin that precipitate from the cytoplasm of red blood cells (RBCs) and accumulate on RBC membranes. Although Heinz bodies are re­moved from RBCs by the spleen, they're a major cause of hemolytic anemias.

Heinz bodies can be detected in a whole blood sample using phase microscopy or supravital stains; when they don't form spontaneously, various oxidant drugs may be added to the sample to induce their formation.


  • To help detect causes of hemolytic anemia

Patient preparation

  • Explain to the patient that this test is used to determine the cause of anemia.
  • Tell him that a blood sample will be taken. Explain who will perform the venipuncture and when.
  • Reassure him that drawing a blood sample will take less than 3 minutes.
  • Explain that he may feel slight discomfort from the tourniquet pressure and the needle puncture.
  • Review the patient's drug history for medications that may affect test results. Withhold antimalarials, furazolidone, nitrofurantoin, phenacetin, procarbazine, and sulfonamides. If these medications must be continued, note this on the laboratory slip.
  • Inform the patient that food or fluids need not be restricted before the test.

Procedure and posttest care

  • Perform a venipuncture, collecting the sample in a 7-mllavender-top tube.
  • If a hematoma develops at the venipuncture site, apply wann soaks.
  • Resume administration of medications withheld before the test.
  • Completely fill the sample collection tube and invert it gently several times to mix the sample and the anticoagulant; do not shake the tube vigorously.

Reference values

A negative test result indicates an absence of Heinz bodies

Abnormal findings

The presence of Heinz bodies - a positive test result - may indicate an inherited RBC enzyme deficiency, the presence of unstable hemoglobin, thalassemia, or drug-induced RBC injury. Heinz bodies may also be present after splenectomy

Interfering factors
  • Failure to fill the collection tube completely, to use the appropriate anticoagulant, to adequately mix the sample and the anticoagulant, or to send the sample to the laboratory immediately.
  • Antimalarials, furazolidone (in infants), nitrofurantoin, phenacetin, procarbazine, sulfonamides (possible false-positive)
  • Recent blood transfusion.

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