What It Is:
A complete blood cell (CBC) count is a comprehensive snapshot of the numbers, sizes, and types of blood cells present in the blood of a patient. A CBC count may be ordered as part of a general check-up, or to test for certain conditions, such as inflammation, infection, and anemia.
A CBC is actually comprised of several different tests that are run on the blood, including white blood cell counts and red blood cell counts, white blood cell differential, hemoglobin, hematocrit, mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular hemoglobin, mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, red cell distribution width and platelet count.
How It Is Done:
A blood sample will be taken, normally from a vein in the arm. The blood is then sent to a clinical lab, where it is analyzed using a specialized machine. Sometimes, laboratory staff also review the appearance of blood cells manually, using a microscope.
How It Is Used:
The results of a CBC are used by physicians to check overall health status, response to a course of treatment, or more specific conditions, such as blood loss, infection, leukemia, sickle cell disease, or abnormal clotting.