Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Complete Blood Count

red-blood-cellsMany number of times your pathological lab technician pricks your arm and draws a syringe of blood to investigate the complete blood count, following the order of your doctor. Yet, we wonder what this test entails and why we need it?

The Complete Blood Count is used as a broad screening test to check for such disorders as anaemia, infection, and many other diseases. It is actually a panel of tests that examines different parts of the blood, which means it is more than a haemogram.


  • An adult human has about 4–6 liters of blood circulating in the body. Among other things, blood transports oxygen to various parts of the body.
  • Blood consists of several types of cells floating around in a fluid called plasma.

The red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein that binds oxygen. Red blood cells transport oxygen to, and remove carbon dioxide from, the body tissues. There are about one billion red blood cells in two to three drops of blood. Red blood cells live about 120 days in the circulatory system.

The white blood cells fight infection. Whenever a germ or infection enters the body, the white blood cells snap to attention and race toward the scene of the crime. The white blood cells are continually on the lookout for signs of disease. When a germ does appear, the white blood cells have a variety of ways by which they can attack. Some will produce protective antibodies that will overpower the germ. Others will surround and devour the bacteria.

The platelets help the blood to clot, if you get a wound for example. Without platelets in your blood you could die from a single cut.

The plasma contains salts and various other kinds of proteins. 

Test Name Role Implication of increased or decreased numbers
WBC White Blood Cell Infection-fighters
  1. May be increased with infections, inflammation, cancer, leukemia
  2. Decreased with some medications (such as methotrexate), some autoimmune conditions, some severe infections, bone marrow failure, and congenital marrow aplasia (marrow doesn’t develop normally)
RBC Red Blood Cell Transport oxygen to body tissues and remove carbon dioxide from the body tissues
  1. Decreased with anaemia
  2. Increased when too many made like when people are living at high altitude, their RBCs increases and with fluid loss due to diaorrhoea, dehydration and burns
MCV Mean Corpuscular Volume Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is a measurement of the average size of your RBCs.
  1. Increased with Folate, vitamin B12 deficiency with liver disorder and hyper thyroidism.
  2. Decreased with iron deficiency and thallesemia
MCH Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) is a calculation of the average amount of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin inside a red blood cell. Mirrors MCV results
MCHC Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration  
  1. May be decreased when MCV is decreased
  2. Increases limited to amount of Hgb that will fit inside a RBC
RDW RBC Distribution Width   Increased RDW indicates mixed population of RBCs; immature RBCs tend to be larger
Platelet Platelet Helps blood clot Decreased when there are viral infections (dengue fever) and other severe infections; decreased with some inherited disorders (such as Wiskott-Aldrich, Bernard-Soulier), with Systemic lupus erythematosus—a chronic inflammatory auto immune disorder pernicious anaemia, hypersplenism (spleen takes too many out of circulation), leukemia—a bone marrow disorder and chemotherapy and other drugs. 

Dr. A K Bali, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Moolchand Medcity

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One Response

July 23, 2013

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