Blood Differential

What is a Blood Differential Test?

A blood differential test, also known as a complete blood count or CBC, is a lab exam used to evaluate the number and types of cells that are present in the blood. It helps to diagnose conditions such as infections, anemia, and clotting disorders. It can also provide important information about the general health of an individual.

Preparation for a Blood Differential Test

No special preparation is needed for a blood differential test, and you may be able to walk into a lab and get the test done. However, it is important to inform your doctor of any medications or supplements you are taking prior to the test, as some medications can affect the results.

Procedure for a Blood Differential Test

During a complete blood count, a single drop of blood is drawn from a finger or arm and placed on a slide or plate. The sample is then examined for different types of cells, such as red and white blood cells and platelets.

Types of Cells Found in a Blood Differential Test

  • Red blood cells (ERY): Red blood cells transport oxygen to the body's tissues. A decrease in red blood cells is called anemia.
  • White blood cells (WBC): White blood cells are part of the immune system and help fight infection. An increase in white blood cells is often seen in infections.
  • Platelets (PLT): Platelets help the blood to clot and prevent bleeding.

Why is a Blood Differential Test Needed?

A blood differential test is often conducted as part of a physical exam or when an individual is experiencing certain symptoms. It is used to evaluate the number and types of cells present in the blood, which can help diagnose a wide range of medical conditions.

When is a Blood Differential Test Needed?

A CBC is often performed when an individual is exhibiting symptoms such as infections, anemia, or bleeding disorders. It is also commonly done as part of a routine physical exam or as part of a routine blood panel.

Risks of a Blood Differential Test

A blood differential test is a relatively safe procedure with minimal risks. Very rarely the sample may be contaminated with bacteria or other contaminants. There may also be a slight risk of infection at the site of the sample due to contamination. It is important to ensure that the sample is handled properly and that the procedure is done using clean and sterile equipment.