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Complete Blood Count (CBC)

The complete blood count (CBC) is probably one of the most frequently performed

lab tests. This test gives the physician a great deal of information about the

general health of the patient.

The complete blood count can help the physician

diagnose a large number of conditions, and aid in the ultimate diagnosis of

many other problems:

1. LEUKEMIA (white blood cell disorder)

2. LYMPHOMA (white blood cell disorder)

3. ANEMIA (low hemoglobin and red cell count)

4. THROMBOCYTOPENIA (a low platelet count secondary to drug side effect,

vitamin deficiency, or bone marrow disease)

5. INFECTION (shows increase in white blood cells)

6. GENERAL INFLAMMATION (shows increase in white blood cells)

7. NEUTROPENIA (low white blood cell count)

This test is performed from a standard venipuncture specimen.


Hemoglobin (grams/deciliter): 12-16 (Women) and 14-18 (Men)

Hematocrit (expressed as a percent of the blood volume that is occupied by red

blood cells):

Men 40% to 54%

Women 37% to 47%

Children 31% to 41%

Newborns 44% to 64%

White Blood Cell Count: 4,500 – 11,000 (per cubic millimeter). Slightly higher

counts are normal in children.

Causes of Low White Blood Cell Counts (Neutropenia):

1. Aplastic anemia

2. Leukemia

3. Myelodysplastic syndromes

4. Drug induced (chemotherapeutic agents, chloramphenicol, penicillins, sulfa

drugs, phenothiazines, and anti-inflammatory agents)

5. Nutritional deficiency (vitamin B12 and folate)

6. Infection (TB, measles, mononucleosis, viral hepatitis, malaria,

histoplasmosis, and HIV)

7. Autoimmune disease (lupus and rheumatoid arthritis)

8. Hemodialysis

9. Cardiopulmonary bypass

10. Overwhelming sepsis (bacterial infection in the bloodstream)

11. Myelofibrosis

Red Blood Cell Count: 4.6-6.2 million per cubic millimeter in Men and 4.2-5.4

million per cubic millimeter in Women.


The following red blood cell indices are determined to help diagnose the cause

of anemia.

MCV = Mean Corpuscular Volume – This is a measurement of the size of an average

red cell. It is useful in the evaluation of anemia. Normal values should be

in the range of 80 – 96 cubic microns (cu u).

MCH = Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin – This index describes the weight of

hemoglobin in an average red cell. Normal values should be in the range of 27 –

31 picograms (pg).

MCHC = Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration – This index describes the

amount of hemoglobin in an average red cell. Normal values should be in the

range of 32% – 36%.


Iron Deficient Anemia Pernicious Anemia

MCV 60 – 80 cu u 95 – 150 cu u

MCH 5 – 25 pg 33 – 53 pg

MCHC 20% – 30% 33% – 38%

Platelet Count: 150,000-400,000 per cubic millimeter are considered a normal


White Blood Cell Differential (percentages of the different types of white

blood cells that comprise the total white blood cell count):

Neutrophils 47% to 77% (elevated in infection, inflammation, and


Bands 0% to 3% (elevated in some cases of bacterial


Lymphocytes 16% to 43% (elevated in some cases of viral infection

and some leukemias)

Monocytes 0.5% to 10% (elevated in some viral and fungal

infections, lupus, cancer, and tuberculosis)

Eosinophils 0.3% to 7% (elevated in allergic conditions, some

cancers, some leukemias, and autoimmune disease)

Basophils 0.3% to 2% (elevated in some leukemias, some cancers,

and hypothyroidism)

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