Blood samples from 40 adult patients with untreated acute leukaemia were processed through the Technicon H*1 blood autoanalyser which gives a complete white cell differential count using flow cytochemistry and provides white cell cytograms as well. We examined the differences in the percentage differential counts and the white cell cytograms of various FAB types of acute leukaemia in an attempt to estimate the usefulness of this easily obtainable data for the identification of acute leukaemias. Differentiation of the 33 acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) cases from the 7 acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) cases was possible on the basis of lymphocyte percentage (AML mean 29.6 vs. ALL mean 67.1, p < 0.01), monocyte percentage (AML mean 12.5 vs. ALL mean 3.3, p < 0.001), mean peroxidase activity value (AML mean -12.6 vs. ALL mean -0.6, p < 0.01) and the absence of IG flag (circulating immature granulocytes) in ALL. Interestingly, the FAB subtypes of AML could be distinguished from each other on the basis of characteristic patterns of cell distribution in the peroxidase cytogram when the total white cell count was over 10 × 109/l. Even with lower counts the differences were distinctive providing that circulating blasts were present.

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