What is a complete blood count?
The production and maturation of blood cells (such as red blood cells, white blood cells but to mention a few) occur primarily in the bone marrow, after which, under normal circumstances, they are released to the bloodstream.
Complete blood count (simply known as CBC) is a group of tests carried out to estimate these cells (and their features) that have been released and circulating in the blood. Complete blood count helps to evaluate the overall health status and detect disorders and/or conditions, such as anemia, infections and leukemia.
What is included in a complete blood count?
The several cells and features of the blood measured by complete blood count test include
- Red blood cells: which transports oxygen through the bloodstream.
- White blood cells: responsible for fighting and protection against infection.
- Hemoglobin: the protein responsible for carrying the oxygen in red blood cells.
- Haematocrit: the percentage of red blood cells to the fluid component, or plasma, in the blood.
- Platelets: responsible for ensuring blood clotting.
- Red blood cell indices: This is responsible for information on the physical features of the red blood cells.
- Mean corpuscular volume (MCV): The measurement of the regular size of the red blood cells.
- Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH): This is the calculated measurement of the average amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cells.
- Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC): This is the calculated measurement of the normal concentration of the hemoglobin in the red blood cells.
- Red cell distribution width (RDW): This gives the information on the measurement of the variation in the size of red blood cells.
- Reticulocyte count: This measures the percentage of the newly produced red blood cells.
- White blood cell differential: The complete blood count differential detects and estimates the total number of each of the five types of white blood cells (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophil, and basophils) present in the blood. The report can be given as an absolute count and/or as a percentage of the total.
- Mean platelet volume (MPV): This measures the average size of the platelets.
- Platelet distribution width (PDW): This gives an idea of how uniform platelets are in size.
Why complete blood count test is being done?
A complete blood count test may be requested for a variety of reasons, which include
- To review the overall health status: A complete blood count test may be recommended as part of a routine medical examination just to monitor the general health status. It can also be used to screen for a range of disorders, such as anemia or leukemia.
- To diagnose a medical condition: A complete blood count test may be carried out if there’s a complaint of, or symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, fever, inflammation, bruising, or bleeding. A complete blood count test will help establish the cause of these signs and symptoms.
- To monitor a medical condition: A complete blood count test may be used to monitor a blood disorder that affects blood cell counts.
- To monitor medical treatment: A complete blood count test is used to monitor the health status if placed under certain medications that may affect blood cell counts.
What is the complete blood count procedure?
A blood sample is withdrawn from the patient. The sample is collected from a prominent vein by qualified laboratory personnel. After which it’s sent to a laboratory for analysis.
What does a complete blood count result mean?
A complete blood count interpretation may mean different things
- Red blood cell count: A high red blood count is known as polycythemia. This could be due to carbon monoxide exposure, smoking, chronic lung disease, alcohol use disorder, heart conditions, kidney disease, liver disease, and polycythemia Vera (which is a rare disease). Low red blood cell count could be due to anemia, bleeding, inflammatory bowel disease, use of certain drugs, bone marrow disorders, chronic kidney disease, iron, vitamin B12, and folate deficiency.
- Reticulocyte hemoglobin: The amount of hemoglobin estimated in red blood cells can help determine the body’s iron status, and by so doing identify an iron deficiency.
- White blood cell count: If this is high it could be due to infection, inflammation, medication use, an autoimmune condition, injury, cancer, pregnancy, smoking or allergic reactions. A low count, known as leukopenia, can be due to bone marrow disorders, autoimmune conditions, severe infection (like sepsis), lymphoma, or dietary deficiencies.
- Platelet count: According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute a high platelet count can be due to recovery from injury or surgery, a vitamin B12 deficiency, cancer, anemia, inflammatory conditions, or infections. While a low platelet count could be due to certain medications, cancer, anemia, viruses, infections, chemotherapy, chronic bleeding, or autoimmune conditions.
- How much does a complete blood count cost?
A complete blood count cost is relatively affordable. Prices, however, differ with locations.
- What are the diseases a complete blood count test diagnose?
These include but not limited to anaemia, vitamin B12 deficiency, blood infection, leukaemia, bone marrow disorder, and iron deficiency.
- How do I prepare for a complete blood count test?
There is no special preparation for a complete blood count procedure, and it also does not require any fasting. However, if there is anything that has to be done, however, the physician will provide all necessary information.
- Are there any risk to complete blood count?
There is very little risk associated with a complete blood count procedure. Slight pain or bruising may, however, be experienced at the spot of sample collection. This usually go away quickly.
- What is the complete blood count normal range?
- Red blood cell: In men the value is 4.32 to 5.72 million cells/mcL. In women it is 3.90 to 5.03 million cells/mcL.
- Haemoglobin: Men 135 to 175 grams/L. Women 120 to 155 grams/L.
- Haematocrit: Men 38.8 to 50.0 percent. Women 34.9 to 44.5 percent.
- White blood cell: this normally should be between 3,500 to 10,500 cells/mcL.
- Platelet count: 150,000 to 450,000/mcL.