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Understanding Lab Tests

Understanding your Lab Test Results

Lab test results have a lot of abbreviations and numbers. This guide will help explain what blood test results mean and what are the ranges of normal.

CLL Ireland recommends that lab test results are reviewed and explained by a CLL clinician to ensure the relevance of the results to the treatment of your disease is properly explained to you.

Full Blood Count (FBC)

A full blood count includes the following measurements:

Haematocrit (HCT) value – This is the percentage of red blood cells in relation to your total blood volume; in other words the amount of space red blood cells take up in the blood. It is reported as a percentage (0 to 100) or a proportion (0 to 1).

Haemoglobin (HGB) value – Haemoglobin gives red blood cells their colour. Haemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and takes carbon dioxide (the waste products) from the tissues to the lungs.

Mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH) is a calculation of the amount of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin inside your RBCs. Since macrocytic RBCs are larger than either normal or microcytic RBCs, they would also tend to have higher MCH values.

Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC) is a calculation of the concentration of haemoglobin inside the RBCs. Decreased MCHC values (hypochromia) are seen in conditions where the haemoglobin is abnormally diluted inside the red cells, such as in iron deficiency anaemia, long standing inflammation or thalassaemia. Increased MCHC values (hyperchromia) are seen in conditions where the haemoglobin is abnormally concentrated inside the red cells, such as in hereditary or autoimmune spherocytosis.

Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is a measurement of the average size of your RBCs. The MCV is elevated when your RBCs are larger than normal (macrocytic), for example in anaemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency or folic acid deficiency. When the MCV is decreased, your RBCs are smaller than normal (microcytic), which may indicate iron deficiency anaemia, inflammation or occasionally thalassaemias.

Mean platelet volume (MPV) is a machine-calculated measurement of the average size of your platelets. New platelets are larger, and an increased MPV occurs when increased numbers of platelets are being produced.

Platelet count – Platelets help to stop bleeding by forming blood clots. The platelet count is the number of platelets in a given volume of blood. Both increases and decreases can point to bleeding or bone marrow disorders.

Red blood cell (RBC) count: is a count of the actual number of red blood cells per volume of blood. Both increases and decreases can point to abnormal conditions.

Red cell distribution width (RDW) is a calculation of the variation in the size of your RBCs. In some anaemias, such as iron deficiency or pernicious anaemia, the amount of variation (anisocytosis) in RBC size (along with variation in shape – poikilocytosis) causes an increase in the RDW.

White blood cell (WBC) count is a count of the actual number of white blood cells per volume of blood. Both increases and decreases can be significant. These cells are important in fighting infections.

FBC Normal Ranges

Test AcronymMeaningNormal Range Values (Male)Normal Range Values (Female)
HGBHemoglobin level13.8-17.2 g/dL12.1-15.1 g/dL
MCHMean corpuscular hemoglobin27-31 pg27-31 pg
MCHCMean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration32-36 g/dL32-36 g/dL
MCVMean corpuscular volume80-100 fL80-100 fL
PLTNumber of platelets150-450 x 109/L150-450 x 109/L
RBCNumber of red blood cells4.7 to 6.1 million cells/mcL4.2 to 5.4 million cells/mcL
RDWRed cell distribution width11.8-15.6%11.9-15.5%
WBCNumber of white blood cells3.5-10.5 x 109/L3.5-10.5 x 109/L

White Blood Cell Differential (Diff)

This looks at the types of white blood cells present.

There are five different types of white blood cells, each with its own function in protecting us from infection.

The differential classifies a person’s white blood cells into each type: neutrophils (also known as PMNs), lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils.

Diff Normal Ranges
TestMeaningNormal Range Values
Neuts.%Percentage of Neutrophils40% to 60%
Lymphs%Percentage of Lymphocytes20% to 40%
Monos.%Percentage of Monocytes2% to 8%
Eos.%.Percentage of Eosinophils1% to 4%
Baso.%Percentage of Basophils0.5% to 1%
Neuts.# (ANC)Absolute Neutrophil Count1.70-7.00 x 109/L
Lymphs# (ALC)Absolute Lymphocyte Count0.90-2.90 x 109/L
Monos#Number of Monocytes0.30-0.90 x 109/L
Eos#Number of Eosinophils0.05-0.50 x 109/L
Baso#Number of Basophils0.00-0.30 x 109/L

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