Use of diffractometric methods for clinical analysis of red cell number, shape and hemoglobin content has been proposed repeatedly through the years. Reality has invariably fallen far short of the apparent promise for at least two reasons. First, locating the diffraction bands has proven to be difficult to do by eye, and secondly, the clarity of the diffraction image tends to decrease in direct proportion to the extent of disease in a red cell population. For a method to have clinical utility, the analysis should be rapidly, easily, and reproducibly accomplished on abnormal as well as normal red cell populations.
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