September 4, 2015

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Anemia

Anemia

How is anemia diagnosed?

Anemia is usually detected, or at least confirmed, by a complete blood cell (CBC) count. A CBC test may be ordered by a physician as a part of routine general checkup and screening or based on clinical signs and symptoms that may suggest anemia or other blood abnormalities.

What is a complete blood cell (CBC) count?

Traditionally, CBC analysis was performed by a physician or a laboratory technician by viewing a glass slide prepared from a blood sample under a microscope. Today, much of this work is often automated and done by machines. Six component measurements make up a CBC test:

  1. Red blood cell (RBC) count
  2. Hematocrit
  3. Hemoglobin
  4. White blood cell (WBC) count
  5. Differential blood count
  6. Platelet count

Only the first three of these tests -- the red blood cell (RBC) count, the hematocrit, and the hemoglobin -- are relevant to the diagnosis of anemia.

Additionally, mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is also often reported in a CBC, which basically measures the average volume of red blood cells in a blood sample. This is important in distinguishing the causes of anemia. Units of MCV are reported in femtoliters, a fraction of one millionth of a liter.

Other useful clues to causes of anemia that are reported in a CBC are the size, shape, and color of red blood cells. Continue Reading

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Reviewed on 7/16/2015