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Reticulocyte Count

Risks

There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is taken.

Results

A reticulocyte count is a blood test that measures how fast red blood cells camera.gif called reticulocytes camera.gif are made by the bone marrow and released into the blood.

Normal

The reticulocyte count is given as the percentage of red blood cells that are reticulocytes (the number of reticulocytes divided by the total number of red blood cells, multiplied by 100).

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Results are ready in 1 day.

Reticulocyte count 1
Adults:

0.5%–1.5%

Newborns:

3%–6%

High values

  • A high reticulocyte count may mean more red blood cells are being made by the bone marrow. This can occur after a lot of bleeding, a move to a high altitude, or certain types of anemia. These conditions cause red blood cells to break down (hemolysis).
  • The reticulocyte count rises after the treatment for pernicious anemia, iron deficiency anemia, or folic acid deficiency anemia starts working.

Low values

  • A low reticulocyte count may mean fewer red blood cells are being made by the bone marrow. This can be caused by aplastic anemia or other types of anemia, such as iron deficiency anemia.
  • A low reticulocyte count can also be caused by exposure to radiation, a long-term (chronic) infection, or by certain medicines that damage the bone marrow.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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