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Updated: Dec 27 2016

RBC Indices

  • Introduction
    • Red blood cell (RBC) indices
      • describes RBC size and shape, as well as hemoglobin content
      • plays an important role in determining the cause of anemia
    • RBC indices include
      • mean corpuscular volume (MCV)
      • mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH)
      • mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC)
  • Mean Corpuscular Volume
    • Reflects average RBC volume
    • Anemia classification
      • microcytic (< 80 fL)
      • normocytic (80 μm - 100 fL)
      • macrocytic (> 100 fL)
  • Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin
    • Reflects average hemoglobin content
      • low hemoglobin content results in a low MCH
        • hypochromia on peripheral blood smear
        • e.g., iron deficiency anemia and thalassemias
  • Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration (MCHC)
    • Reflects average hemoglobin concentration of RBCs
      • elevated MCHC
        • RBC agglutination
        • spherocytosis
        • sickle cell anemia
        • hemoglobin C disease
      • decreased MCHC
        • in conditions of decreased hemoglobin production
  • Red Cell Distribution Width
    • Reflects variation in size of RBCs
      • elevated RDW implies a high degree of RBC size variation
        • iron deficiency anemia
        • myelodysplastic syndromes
        • hemoglobinopathies
      • low RDW implies a more homogenous RBC size
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