The amount of hemoglobin relative to the size of the cell (hemoglobin concentration) per red blood cell (MCHC)
Erythrocyte indices; Blood indices; Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH); Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC); Mean corpuscular volume (MCV); Red blood cell indices
How the Test is Performed
A blood sample is needed.
How to Prepare for the Test
No special preparation is necessary.
How the Test will Feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.
Why the Test is Performed
RBCs transport hemoglobin which, in turn, transports oxygen. The amount of oxygen tissues receive depends on the amount and function of RBCs and hemoglobin.
The MCV reflects the size of red blood cells. The MCH and MCHC reflect the hemoglobin content of red blood cells. These RBC measures are used to diagnose types of anemia.
Anemias are defined based on cell size (MCV) and amount of Hgb (MCH).
MCV less than lower limit of normal: microcytic anemia
MCV within normal range: normocytic anemia
MCV greater than upper limit of normal: macrocytic anemia
MCH less than lower limit of normal: hypochromic anemia
MCH within normal range: normochromic anemia
MCH greater than upper limit of normal: hyperchromic anemia
MCV: 80 - 100 femtoliter
MCH: 27 - 31 picograms/cell
MCHC: 32 - 36 grams/deciliter
The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or may test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
This test is used to diagnose the cause of anemia. The following are the types of anemia and their causes:
Hutchison RE, McPherson RA, Schexneider KI. Basic examination of blood and bone marrow. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 30.
Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.