Understanding Reticulocyte Count
What is Reticulocyte Count?
Reticulocytes are relatively immature red blood cells (RBCs) produced by the bone marrow. This test is used to determine the amount of reticulocytes in the blood and is a measure of bone marrow function or activity. It is suggested by a doctor if he suspects any symptoms of anemia such as fatigue, headache and weakness. Various conditions such as liver cirrhosis, erythroblastosis fetalis, bone marrow failure and folate deficiency can lead to different types of anemia.
This test is used to diagnose different types of anemia including aplastic anemia, hemolytic anemia, pernicious anemia and Iron deficiency anemia.
What is Reticulocyte Count used for?
The Reticulocyte Count Test is performed:
· To evaluate bone marrow activity to produce red blood cells
· To diagnose and distinguish between different types of anemia
· To determine the cause of abnormal results appearing in tests like Complete Blood Count (CBC), Hematocrit Test, etc.
· To monitor treatment efficacy and recovery of bone marrow activity after chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, treatment for iron deficiency and folate deficiency anemia, or treatment for renal failure
Interpreting Reticulocyte Count results
· Adults: 0.5% to 2.5%
· Children: 2% to 6%
Reticulocyte count may vary from person to person depending on a number of other factors. Hence, Reticulocyte Count Test is performed and interpreted together with other tests like CBC, Hematocrit, Iron Tests, etc. to determine the cause of abnormalities, if any.
Higher than normal reticulocyte count may indicate:
· Hemolytic anemia (anemia due to destruction of RBCs)
· Excessive bleeding
· Bleeding disorders in newborns
· Kidney diseases causing increased secretion of hormone erythropoietin
· Cigarette smoking
Lower than normal reticulocyte count may indicate:
· Bone marrow failure due to infections, cancer, chemotherapy, etc.
· Liver cirrhosis
· Iron deficiency anemia
· Pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 or folate deficiency)
· Aplastic anemia (anemia due to bone marrow damage)
· Kidney diseases causing decreased secretion of hormone erythropoietin