The Heme Profile or CBC (Complete Blood Count) is a long-standing platform test of the clinical laboratory. The test consists of two parts:
The Machine Panel: A battery of physical/chemical measurements conducted by a single instrument that measures the size and important characteristics of each circulating blood cell. Modern instruments are able to provide estimations of: WBC, RBC, Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, MCV, MCH, MCHC, Polys & Stabs, Lymphocytes, Monocytes, Basophils, Morphology, Platelets.
The Blood Smear: A thin smear of blood is applied on a glass slide, stained, and examined under a microscope to record the appearance and nature of the cellular components. This part is not required in all cases. Usually, the numerical parameters from the Machine panel can be used to determine whether a smear should be done.
This is the basic test for all hematology investigations. It is also used for monitoring hematological abnormalities or hematological responses to disease.
A brief description of each of the measured parameters:
WBC White Blood Count: A total count of the number of white cells per liter of blood. Increased in inflammation and infection and in dyscrasias (such as leukemia).
Decreased: In various infections, bone marrow defects, drugs, etc. An examination of the features described below will indicate which of the white cell types is causing the general lowering.
RBC Red Cell Count: A total count of the number of red cells per liter of blood. Increased in overproduction states of the marrow (polycythemia, chronic oxygen deprivation). Decreased in anemia. An examination of the red cell indices usually reveals the nature of the abnormality.
Hemoglobin: The total amount of hemoglobin in the blood (irrespective of the number of cells containing the hemoglobin).
Hematocrit: The total volume of the red cells in the blood.
MCV Mean Corpuscular Volume is an indication of the size of the red cells.
MCH Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin is a measure of the amount of hemoglobin per red blood cell
MCHC Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration is the amount of hemoglobin per liter of fluid in each cell.
Polys & Stabs The polymorphonuclear leukocyte white cell line. Usually responds quickly to stress and infection.
Lymphocytes The lymphocytes are the circulating immune response cells
Monocytes Phagocytic (engulfing) white cells
Basophils Phagocytic white cells
Platelets The small cells which are intimately involved in coagulation and clot formation.
Morphology This is performed using a microscope. The various types of cells are examined and the nature of any abnormality is described. If significant, it will be reviewed by a hematologist who will add possible causes of the abnormalities.