A complete blood count (CBC) is used as a broad screening method to test for such disorders as anemia or infection.  A small sample of blood is all that is needed to perform the test.  Below is an excerpt from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry website that clearly describes the parts of a CBC and what different results may indicate.  Besides the listed parameters, we commonly perform a fibrinogen test along with the CBC.  Fibrinogen is known as the ‘protein of inflammation’ and helps to further assess the status of our patients.

The CBC is actually a panel of tests that examines different parts of the blood and includes the following:

  • 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.
  • White blood cell differential 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 animals from infection. The differential classifies an animal's white blood cells into each type: neutrophils (also known as segs, PMNs, granulocytes, grans), lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils.
  • 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.
  • Hemoglobin measures the amount of oxygen-carrying protein in the blood.
  • Hematocrit measures the percentage of red blood cells in a given volume of whole blood.
  • The platelet count is the number of platelets in a given volume of blood. Both increases and decreases can point to abnormal conditions of excess bleeding or clotting. 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. MPV gives your doctor information about platelet production in your bone marrow.

The CBC is a very common test. Many patients will have baseline CBC tests to help determine their general health status. If they are healthy and they have cell populations that are within normal limits, then they may not require another CBC until their health status changes or until their doctor feels that it is necessary.

If a patient is having symptoms such as fatigue or weakness or has an infection, inflammation, bruising, or bleeding, then the doctor may order a CBC to help diagnose the cause. Significant increases in WBCs may help confirm that an infection is present and suggest the need for further testing to identify its cause. Decreases in the number of RBCs (anemia) can be further evaluated by changes in size or shape of the RBCs to help determine if the cause might be decreased production, increased loss, or increased destruction of RBCs. A platelet count that is low or extremely high may confirm the cause of excessive bleeding or clotting and can also be associated with diseases of the bone marrow such as leukemia.

For more information, please visit:
The American Association for Clinical Chemistry website>>


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