Red Blood Cell (RBC) Indices

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What Are Red Blood Cell (RBC) Indices?

Red blood cell indices are measurements of red blood cells, including hemoglobin (Hb), hematocrit (HCT), red blood cell (RBC) count, mean cell volume (MCV), mean cell hemoglobin (MCH) and mean cell hemoglobin concentration (MCHC). They are indicators of red blood cell production and are used to evaluate anemia or erythrocytosis.

Preparation for RBC Indices Test

No special preparation is needed for the RBC indices tests. However, some clinicians might ask the patients to fast for eight hours before the test.

Procedure for RBC Indices Test

The RBC indices test is done by drawing a sample of blood from a vein, usually from the arm. It does not require the patient to be admitted to the hospital and can be done in the laboratory.

Types of RBC Indices Test

  • Hemoglobin (Hb): it is the total amount of hemoglobin per 100 mL of blood.
  • Hematocrit (HCT): it is the percentage of the volume of the blood occupied by red blood cells.
  • Red blood cell (RBC) count: it is the actual number of red blood cells per mm3 of blood.
  • Mean cell volume (MCV): it is the average size of red blood cell.
  • Mean cell hemoglobin (MCH): it is the average amount of hemoglobin per red blood cell.
  • Mean cell hemoglobin concentration (MCHC): it is the average concentration of hemoglobin in an individual red blood cell.
  • Why RBC Indices Test is done?

    The red blood cell indices are done to determine the cause of anemia or erythrocytosis (excess red blood cells). The test also helps to differentiate between causes of anemia and accounts for the various stages of the disease. RBC indices tests are used in the diagnosis of several conditions such as sickle cell anemia, Myelodysplastic Syndrome, hemolytic anemia, iron deficiency anemia, thalassemia and pernicious anemia.

    When RBC Indices Test is done?

    RBC indices tests are usually done when the complete blood count (CBC) shows a low hemoglobin level. It can also be done in people who have symptoms of anemia such as fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache and pale skin.

    Risks of RBC Indices Test

    RBC indices tests are safe and simple to do. There are no known risks associated with it. The only risk associated with drawing the blood is a feeling of lightheadedness or fainting.