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Causes of neutrophilia

Thomas D Coates, MD
Section Editors
Donald H Mahoney, Jr, MD
Laurence A Boxer, MD
Deputy Editor
Jennifer S Tirnauer, MD


The normal total white blood cell (WBC) count in adults varies from 4400 to 11,000 cells/microL (4.4 to 11.0 x 109/L), the majority of which (approximately 60 percent) are mature neutrophils.

Leukocytosis is defined as a total WBC more than two standard deviations above the mean, or a value of greater than 11,000/microL in adults. Since the limits of normal include two standard deviations above the mean, 2.5 percent of the normal population will have a total WBC count above this value. This becomes important when an otherwise normal patient with a modest increase in WBC count is being evaluated. Such patients may be included with those considered to have chronic idiopathic neutrophilia (see below).

Neutrophilia, the major subject of this topic review, is defined as an increase in the absolute neutrophil count. It is most often seen in the setting of an increased total WBC count (see 'Definitions' below).

The major causes and mechanisms of neutrophilia will be reviewed here. The approach to the patient with neutrophilia and other forms of leukocytosis are discussed separately.

Neutrophilia – (See "Approach to the patient with neutrophilia".)


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Literature review current through: Apr 2016. | This topic last updated: Apr 21, 2016.
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