MedFriendly®
"Where Medical Information is Easy to Understand"™
MEAN CORPUSCULAR HEMOGLOBIN CONCENTRATION

Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (abbreviated as MCHC) is an estimate of the concentration (amount) of hemoglobin in a given number of packed red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a 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 TOGETHER?

When a blood sample is spun around at high speeds in a device called a centrifuge, the cells become packed together.

HOW IS THE MEAN CORPUSCULAR HEMOGLOBIN CONCENTRATION CALCULATED?
Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration
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 THE MEAN CORPUSCULAR HEMOGLOBIN CONCENTRATION?


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 THE MEAN CORPUSCULAR HEMOGLOBIN CONCENTRATION 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 THE MEAN CORPUSCULAR HEMOGLOBIN CONCENTRATION 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.

WHY IS IT CALLED MEAN CORPUSCULAR HEMOGLOBIN CONCENTRATION?

Another word for the average of something is the mean. The word "mean" comes from the Middle English word "mene" meaning "in the middle." Corpuscular comes from the Latin word "corpusculum" meaning "little body." In this case, the red blood cells are the little bodies. Hemoglobin is a substance in the blood that carries oxygen to the cells in the body. Hemoglobin comes from the Greek word "haima" meaning "blood," and the Latin word "globus" meaning "ball." Put the words together and you have "blood ball." Concentration means the amount of something in a given area. Concentration comes from the Latin word "con" meaning "together" and the Latin word "centrum" meaning "center." Put those words together and you have "together (in the) center." In sum, now you can see why the mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration means the amount of hemoglobin in a given number of packed red blood cells.