Complete Blood Count (CBC)

What is a Complete Blood Count (CBC)?

A Complete Blood Count (CBC) is an important procedure used to determine the quantity and quality of various cells in the blood. It is often the first medical test ordered to evaluate a person's overall health or to diagnose and monitor various medical conditions. The CBC includes measures of the three major types of cells that circulate in the blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It also includes measures of hemoglobin, hematocrit, and other elements.

Preparation for a CBC

For a CBC, it is best for the patient to fast for at least 12 hours before the test. Fasting usually involves the patient not eating or drinking anything except for water 8-12 hours beforehand. It is also important to inform the doctor or technician if the patient is taking any medications that could affect the results of the test, as they may need to be adjusted.

Procedure for a CBC

A CBC is typically done as a part of a routine physical. In preparation for the procedure, the patient may need to remove items such as watches, jewelry, or piercings. In order to collect an adequate sample, the patient will be asked to sit or lie down in a comfortable position. The technician will then collect a small blood sample from a vein in the arm with a needle and syringe. Generally, the procedure takes about 10 minutes.

Types of CBC Tests

The most common type of CBC is a Complete Blood Count, which includes measures of the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, as well as measures of hemoglobin, hematocrit, and other elements. Other types of CBC tests include a Reticulocyte Count, which measures the number of immature red cells in the blood, and a Peripheral Blood Smear, which examines the blood under a microscope.

Risks of a CBC

CBC testing is generally considered to be a safe procedure with minimal risk. The most common risks associated with the procedure are minor bruising or swelling around the puncture site, as well as feeling faint or lightheaded when the blood is drawn, both of which are rare.

When to Get a CBC?

A CBC is typically done as part of a routine physical. However, it may also be used to diagnose and monitor various medical conditions, including anemia, infection, leukemia, and other diseases. It can also be used to evaluate organ damage, such as that caused by kidney disease or liver disease, or to assess the effectiveness of treatments for various conditions.

Why is a CBC Important?

A CBC is an important diagnostic tool for evaluating a patient's overall health. The results can provide a variety of information, such as an individual's red blood cell count, white blood cell count, and platelet count, which can help to diagnose, monitor, and treat a variety of medical conditions. It can also help to identify any abnormalities in the blood that could be indicative of disease or injury.