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Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC) measures the average haemoglobin inside one red blood cell. This test is usually done during a complete blood count (CBC) panel.

Why do doctors order MCHC?

MCHC is mostly part of a CBC panel, and your doctor may order this test for the following reasons.

Your CBC panel result provides information on the three types of blood cells – red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The MCHC value is part of the assessment for red blood cells.

What do MCHC results mean?

The MCHC value is obtained by multiplying the haemoglobin result from the CBC panel by 100 and dividing the value by the haematocrit result.

The normal MCHC range for adults is 33.4 – 35.5 grams per decilitre (g/dL). If your MCHC result is below 33.4 g/dL, your MCHC level is low. Low MCHC values often result from anaemia due to iron deficiency or thalassemia. Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder with less haemoglobin and few red blood cells.

An MCHC level above 35.5 grams per decilitre indicates a high MCHC level.

What causes high MCHC?

High MCHC values are usually from conditions where more haemoglobin is concentrated in the red blood cells. It may also occur when red blood cells are fragile and easily destroyed, resulting in haemoglobin outside the red blood cells.

Some conditions that cause high MCHC values are:

In autoimmune haemolytic anaemia, the body produces antibodies that attack the red blood cells. When there is no specific cause, it is called idiopathic autoimmune haemolytic anaemia. This condition can occur alongside existing conditions such as lymphoma or lupus. It may also occur from other causes, such as taking medications like penicillin.

The doctor may order a blood test like the CBC panel to diagnose autoimmune haemolytic anaemia. Other blood tests can also detect some types of antibodies in the blood or bound to red blood cells.

The symptoms of autoimmune haemolytic anaemia include:

These symptoms may be absent if the red blood cell destruction is mild.

Corticosteroids like prednisone are usually the course of treatment for autoimmune haemolytic anaemia. You may receive a high dose initially, then reduced doses over time. If the red blood cell is severe, removal of the spleen (splenectomy) or blood transfusions may be necessary.

Hereditary spherocytosis is a genetic disease that affects red blood cells. The gene mutations affect the red blood cell membrane, making it more fragile and prone to destruction. Your doctor may evaluate your family history to diagnose hereditary spherocytosis, but genetic testing isn’t necessary because you can inherit it from a parent with it.

The doctor will order blood tests, usually, a CBC panel, to determine the severity of the condition. Different forms of hereditary spherocytosis are available, ranging from mild to severe. The symptoms include:

Eating a diet high in folic acid or taking supplements can help boost your red blood cell production. In severe cases, splenectomy or blood transfusion is necessary. If gallstones cause problems, you will have a procedure to remove part or all of the gallbladder.

Hospitalised people with burns on more than 10% of their body usually have haemolytic anaemia. A blood transfusion can solve this issue.

Our healthcare professionals at our Clinic perform CBC panels, including MCHC. You can call us on 02071830244 to schedule an appointment for a blood test to check your MCHC values.