Hematocrit Test

What is a Hematocrit Test?

A hematocrit test is a laboratory test used to measure a person’s red blood cell count. It can tell whether an individual’s red blood cells are normal or below or above average. The hematocrit test is sometimes also referred to as the packed cell volume test.

Preparation for Hematocrit Test

No preparation is needed for a hematocrit test, although individuals may want to wear a short-sleeve shirt so that the technician can easily access the arm for a blood sample.

Hematocrit Test Procedure

The procedure for a hematocrit test is simple and straightforward. The technician will draw blood from a person's arm and then send the sample to the laboratory to measure the red blood cell count. The technician will also place the sample in a test tube which is then put in a centrifuge. The centrifuge separates the red blood cells, which makes the test results easier to interpret.

Types of Hematocrit Test

There are two types of hematocrit tests, manual and automated. Manual hematocrit tests involve examining the blood sample to count the number of red blood cells and measure the volume of packed cells. Automated hematocrit tests use a special machine to measure the hematocrit level.

Risks of Hematocrit Test

The risk for developing hematocrit test complications is extremely low, as the procedure involves only a small amount of blood. The most common risk associated with the procedure is discomfort from the needle prick or feeling faint after the blood sample has been taken.

Why have a Hematocrit Test?

The hematocrit test is used to determine whether an individual's red blood cell count is normal or below or above average. Low hematocrit levels can indicate that there is anemia, while high levels may indicate some type of infection or cancer. The test can also help to diagnose conditions such as leukemia and polycythemia.

When to get a Hematocrit Test?

Your doctor may order a hematocrit test if you have signs or symptoms of anemia, such as fatigue, dizziness, or pale skin. Other conditions, such as heart disease, kidney disease, or liver disease, may also lead to your doctor ordering a hematocrit test. Additionally, a hematocrit test may be ordered prior to surgery or before beginning chemotherapy.