Red Blood Cell Indices

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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2023-03-27 (EDT)

See Also Lab Tests

The RBC indices provide information about the size, weight and hemoglobin concentration of RBCs. These tests are part of the complete blood count and is useful in clarifying the specific type of anemia that may be present.[1], [2]


The red blood cell indices include:

  • Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is a measure of the average volume, or size, of a single RBC.
  • Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) is a measure of the average weight of hemoglobin.
  • Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) is a measure of the average concentration or percentage of hemoglobin within a single RBC.
  • Red Blood Cell Distribution Width (RDW) is an indication of the variation in RBC size.

Patient Preparation

  • Fasting is not required for this test.

Interfering Factors:

  • Abnormal RBC size may affect the MCH and the MCHC.
  • Extremely elevated WBC counts may increase the MCV and MCH indices.
  • Marked elevation in lipid levels may falsely increase MCV, MCHC and MCH levels.
  • Drugs that may cause increase levels include zidovudine, phenytoin and azathioprine.

Associated Tests

A red blood cell indices test is typically part of a complete blood count which includes hemoglobin, hematocrit and red blood cell count.


  1. Pagana Kathleen D, Pagana Timothy J (2006) Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, Mosby.
  2. Weatherby Dicken, Ferguson Scott (2002) Blood Chemistry and CBC Analysis: Clinical Laboratory Testing from a Functional Perspective, Bear Mountain.