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Neutrophils are the main type of white blood cell. They are the main white blood cells that trigger a response in the immune system. Amongst the five types of white blood cells, the largest percentage of cells is the neutrophils, with 55 – 70% of the white blood cells. The white blood cells, which are also known as leukocytes, are an important part of the immune system.

The immune system consists of cells, tissues and organs. The white blood cells are a part of this complex system, patrolling your lymphatic system and bloodstream.

When you have a minor injury or are sick, the presence of a foreign body called antigens triggers your immune system.

Antigens include:

The white blood cells help fight these antigens by identifying the source of the inflammation or infection with the chemicals produced

Neutrophils have an important function because, unlike the other four types of white blood cells, they aren’t confined to a specific area in the body. They circulate freely through the walls of the veins and tissues in the body to attack any antigen.

Absolute neutrophil count (ANC)

The absolute neutrophil count can give your doctor information about your health. This test is usually a part of your complete blood called (CBC) and differential WBC count. A CBC test measures all the cells in your blood.

Your healthcare professional may recommend an ANC to:

If the ANC result is abnormal, the doctor may order repeated testing several times over a few weeks. This helps to monitor changes in neutrophil count.

What you should expect

An ANC test requires a small amount of blood sample, usually from a vein in the arm. The blood collection can be in a lab or the doctor’s office. Laboratory analysis of the blood will provide the ANC result.

Some conditions can affect your ANC blood test. Ensure you also inform the provider if you are pregnant or have any of these conditions.

Understanding the ANC result

Your healthcare provider will explain your test result. The ANC results usually vary in different labs and depend on the following.

Below are the approximate reference ranges for adults measured in microliters (mcL).

Test Normal cell count Normal differential range High levels (neutrophilia and leucocytosis) Low levels (neutropenia and leukopenia)
Neutrophils (ANC) 1500 – 8000 (1.5 – 8.0) neutrophils per mcL 45 – 75% of total white blood cells ˃8000 neutrophils per mcL Mild- 1000- 1500 neutrophils per mcL
Moderate- 500 –  1000 neutrophils per mcL
Severe-  ˂500 neutrophils per mcL
White blood cells (WBC) 4300 – 10000 (4.3 – 10.0) white blood cells per mcL 1% of total blood volume ˃12000 white blood cells per mcL ˂4000 white blood cells per mcL

Causes of high neutrophil levels

A high neutrophil level in the blood is known as neutrophilia. This may be due to an infection in the body. Neutrophilia can indicate several underlying conditions and factors, such as:

Causes of low neutrophil levels

Neutropenia refers to low neutrophil levels. Low neutrophil counts usually occur from taking medications but may also indicate illnesses. They include:

You are at the highest risk of infection if your neutrophil count is below 1500 neutrophils/microliter. Life-threatening infections may also occur if the neutrophil count is very low.

Questions to ask your healthcare provider

If your healthcare provider orders an ANC screening or a CBC with differential, consider asking the following questions.

If you’re concerned about getting accurate results for y our neutrophil count, visit Private Blood Tests London. Our healthcare professional will perform the test and explain your results. Call us on 02071830244 to book an appointment for your absolute neutrophil count (ANC).