RBC Indices

Red blood cell (RBC) indices are part of the complete blood count (CBC) test. They are used to help diagnose the cause of anemia, a condition where there are too couple of red blood cells.

Alternative names for the test is Erythrocyte indices; Blood indices; Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH); Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC); Mean corpuscular volume (MCV); Red blood cell indices.

RBC Indices Meaning & Procedure

The indices consist of:

  • Average red blood cell size (MCV).
  • Hemoglobin quantity per red cell (MCH).
  • The amount of hemoglobin relative to the size of the cell (hemoglobin concentration) per red cell (MCHC).

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed.

How to Prepare for the Test

No unique preparation is essential.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is placed to draw blood, some individuals feel moderate pain. Others feel just a prick or stinging. Later, there might be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This quickly disappears.

Why the Test is Performed

Hemoglobin transportations oxygen. RBCs carry hemoglobin and oxygen to our body’s cells. The RBC indices test measures how well the RBCs do this. The results are used to diagnose various types of anemia.

Normal Results for MCV, MCH, MCHC Blood Test

These test results are in the normal variety:

  • MCV: 80 to 100 femtoliter.
  • MCH: 27 to 31 picograms/cell.
  • MCHC: 32 to 36 grams/deciliter (g/dL) or 320 to 360 grams per liter (g/L).

The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value varieties might differ a little amongst various laboratories. Some labs use various measurements or might test different samples. Speak to your health care supplier about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

These test results suggest the type of anemia:.

  • MCV listed below normal. Microcytic anemia (may be because of low iron levels, lead poisoning, or thalassemia).
  • MCV normal. Normocytic anemia (might be due to sudden blood loss, long-term illness, kidney failure, aplastic anemia, or manufactured heart valves).
  • MCV above normal. Macrocytic anemia (might be due to low folate or B12 levels, or chemotherapy).
  • MCH below normal. Hypochromic anemia (frequently due to low iron levels).
  • MCH normal. Normochromic anemia (may be because of sudden blood loss, long-lasting diseases, kidney failure, aplastic anemia, or man-made heart valves).
  • MCH above normal. Hyperchromic anemia (might be due to low folate or B12 levels, or chemotherapy).

Risks during the Test

Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another, and from one side of the body to the other. Getting a blood sample from some individuals might be more difficult than from others.

Other risks related to having blood drawn are small, however might consist of:.

  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Passing out or feeling lightheaded.
  • Hematoma (blood buildup under the skin).
  • Infection (a small risk any time the skin is broken).

Last Update - September 21, 2017


The Author

Reyus Mammadli

As a healthy lifestyle advisor I try to guide individuals in becoming more aware of living well and healthy through a series of proactive and preventive measures, disease prevention steps, recovery after illness or medical procedures. Education: Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.

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