Anemia

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Author: Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH
    Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH

    Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

How is anemia diagnosed?

Anemia is usually detected, or at least confirmed, by a complete blood cell (CBC) count. A CBC test may be ordered by a physician as a part of routine general checkup and screening or based on clinical signs and symptoms that may suggest anemia or other blood abnormalities.

What is a complete blood cell (CBC) count?

Traditionally, CBC analysis was performed by a physician or a laboratory technician by viewing a glass slide prepared from a blood sample under a microscope. Today, much of this work is often automated and done by machines. Six component measurements make up a CBC test:

  1. Red blood cell (RBC) count
  2. Hematocrit
  3. Hemoglobin
  4. White blood cell (WBC) count
  5. Differential blood count
  6. Platelet count

Only the first three of these tests -- the red blood cell (RBC) count, the hematocrit, and the hemoglobin -- are relevant to the diagnosis of anemia.

Additionally, mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is also often reported in a CBC, which basically measures the average volume of red blood cells in a blood sample. This is important in distinguishing the causes of anemia. Units of MCV are reported in femtoliters, a fraction of one millionth of a liter.

Other useful clues to causes of anemia that are reported in a CBC are the size, shape, and color of red blood cells. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 7/16/2015
References
REFERENCE:

Maakaron, Joseph E, et al. "Anemia." eMedicine. 4 Nov. 2011. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/198475-overview>.

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