Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration
(abbreviated as MCHC) is an estimate of the
substance in the blood that carries oxygen to the
cells in the body from the lungs. A cell is the smallest,
most basic unit of life, that is capable of existing by
itself. Red blood cells help carry oxygen in the blood
because red blood cells contain hemoglobin.
HOW DO THE CELLS BECOME PACKED
Red blood cells packed together.
When a blood sample is spun around at high speeds in a device called a centrifuge, the
cells become packed together.
HOW IS MCHC CALCULATED?
The MCHC is calculated by multiplying the amount of hemoglobin by 100 and diving that
number by the amount of packed red blood cells. The number of packed red blood cells
is also known as the hematocrit. Hematocrit is often abbreviated as Hct and hemoglobin
is often abbreviated as Hgb. Since the MCHC is calculated by dividing the hemoglobin
by the hematocrit, you may also see MCHC written as Hgb/Hct (that is, hemoglobin
divided by hematocrit).
WHAT IS THE NORMAL LEVEL OF MCHC?
The normal MCHC level is between 28 and 36% for adults and between 32 and 34% for
children. It is important to keep in mind that the ranges mentioned above will be different
depending on the machine used to do the blood test. Always use the normal range
printed on the lab report to decide what range is normal.
WHAT CAN CAUSE MCHC TO BE TOO HIGH?
Generally, if the MCHC level is over 36%, this is considered to be too high. One reason
that the MCHC level would be too high is because of spherocytosis. Spherocytosis is
the presence of spherocytes in the blood. Spherocytes are types of red blood cells that
contain an abnormally high amount of hemoglobin. If the hemoglobin is not stable, this
can also cause the MCHC level to be too high.
A high MCHC level can also be caused by having too little vitamin
B12 or folic acid (a type of vitamin) in the body. A vitamin is one of
a group of substances made up partly of carbon (an element) that
are essential in small amounts for normal bodily functioning and
chemical processes in the body to take place.
WHAT CAN CAUSE MCHC TO BE TOO LOW?
Generally, if the MCHC level is below 28%, this is considered too
low. The MCHC level can be too low because of blood loss over
time, too little iron in the body, or hypochromic anemia.
Hypochromic anemia is a condition in which the red blood cells
have a decreased amount of hemoglobin.