Neutropenia (noo-troe-PEE-nee-uh) is when your blood has too few neutrophils, a type of white blood cell. All white blood cells help your body fight infections, the neutrophils are important for fighting infections, especially the infections caused by bacteria.
Why would one become neutropenic?
Neutropenia, is a side effect of the chemotherapy given during critical conditioning regimen for HSCT. Thus, as opportunistic infections, including those caused by foods, can occur in the period during which patients are immunocompromised. Ivy will remain neutropenic until engraftment or bone marrow recovery. Once engraftment occurs her new immune system will start making WBCs including neutrophils.
I often take care of neutropenic patients who are febrile in the emergency department. Cancer patients who are neutropenic are instructed immediately go to the ER if they have a temperature >/= 100.4. This is because they are at increased risk of becoming septic and to be deathly ill due to the lack of immune system. These patients are treated with great concern because their condition is often tenuous and they are on the brink of death given their immunocompromised state. A neutropenic fever is no joke.
Ivy is starting to show a slight increase in her neutrophil count and will hopefully be out of the dangers of neutropenia soon. Her neutrophil count will hit 0.5 which will mean she is no longer neutropenic and will be ok to be discharged home. Her count today in 0.1 which was positive as she has been too low to count or register a number for the past several days. Today is a good day and I predict that she will be above 0.5 tomorrow.
|A lonely neutrophil|