MCV or Mean corpuscular volume is an estimate of the average size of your red blood cells (RBCs). Red blood cells carry oxygen from lungs to each cell of your body. In MCV test, your doctor wants to check size of your RBCs. If they are too small or too large, it may mean that you have some disorder. MCV blood test is one of the components measured in the main test called the complete blood count (CBC) test. The CBC test is often done as a routine screening test or when prescribed by your physician to diagnose or monitor certain blood disorders. This test measures many different components of your blood, including RBC count.
In this article, we focus on MCV and cover some aspects on CBC that are essential to explaining the MCV importance. The contents of this article are listed below:
- What is the MCV?
- Why is MCV Important?
- What is the MCV Blood Test Cost?
- How is the CBC (MCV included) test performed?
- Is there any Preparation Required before the Test?
- Are there any risks in the CBC test?
- What does the MCV test result mean?
- What does it mean if MCV is high?
- What does it mean if MCV is low?
- How to improve low MCV levels in blood?
- How to reduce high MCV levels in blood?
- Providers Locations
What is the MCV?
In our blood, the blood cells are categorized into three main categories, they are:
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
MCV measures the average size of RBCs, red blood cells, also known as erythrocytes. Red blood cells are the prime transporting material for sending oxygen from lungs to every cell in the body. The body requires oxygen to function properly and to avoid any health issues. If the red blood cells are not in their original form, being too small or too large, that may be a sign of a blood disorder such as anemia, a vitamin deficiency, or some other medical condition.
MCV test closely mirrors the Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin (MCH). Since MCV readings and MCH readings offer similar information, physicians generally rely on the MCV values from the CBC test report. (However, MCH is different from MCH, they should not be confused).
Why is MCV Important?
MCV is measured and reported as part of a CBC test report. MCV helps in diagnosing different types of anemia and health conditions. MCV value indicates the average size of red blood cells (erythrocytes) in your blood.
Your physician will generally order a CBC test, which includes the MCV analysis if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Cold hands and feet
- Pale skin
- Weight Loss
- Many other conditions
Your MCV values provide important information on your blood health, but it is also compared with other red blood cell components such as Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration (MCHC) and Red Cell Distribution Width (RDW) to have a complete picture on your health and diagnose accordingly.
However, your physician will look in particular for the MCV values for certain medical conditions, such as –
- To evaluate possible symptoms of anemia such as fatigue, pale skin, and lightheadedness
- To distinguish between different types of anemia
- To evaluate other blood abnormalities such as an abnormal white blood cell or platelet count
- As an additional test in many medical conditions
MCV Blood Test Cost
The MCV test is not taken individually. MCV levels are known by taking a CBC Test which is a panel test that measures many components. CBC Test panel covers the following components:
- Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV)
- Red Blood Cell Count (RBC)
- Red Blood Cell Distribution Width (RDW)
- Hemoglobin (Hgb, Hb)
- Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin (MCH)
- Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration (MCHC)
- White Blood Cell Count (WBC)
- Percentage and Absolute Differential Counts / White Blood Cell Differential
- Platelet Count
To know more about the CBC test, you may check our detailed article on CBC Testing here.
The cost of the CBC test ranges between $28 and $39 in different labs and facilities across the U.S. No prior appointment is required. Compare the price, order your test online and visit the nearest lab during lab business hours. Complete the procedure and get the results in your email in 2 to 3 business days. Doctor consultation is also available for further treatment or for any kind of medical advice.
The following table shows the Complete Blood Count (CBC) test cost at our chosen partner lab which is CLIA – Certified and has a network of over 4500+ labs across the US. You are very likely to find a lab in your vicinity.
Name of our Partner Lab
Cost of CBC test cost with insurance
Many health insurance policies in the U.S. cover the cost of the complete blood count test when it is done once or twice a year. If your physician recommends you to take the Complete Blood Count test more than twice in a year, you may have to pay the medical bill out of pocket. Also, the coverage offered by private health insurance policies and national health insurance programs varies widely. So we recommend you to check with your insurance company.
Our CBC testing providers do not accept any health insurance. But, on request, they can provide you with a receipt containing all the details like the name and code of the test, and CPT code which is necessary for insurance reimbursement purposes.
How is the CBC test performed?
As the name suggests, the Complete Blood Count (CBC) test is a simple blood test. During this test, a lab technician or a phlebotomist will cleanse the skin with an antiseptic and place an elastic band around the upper arm so that the vein becomes visible and swells with blood. He/she then injects a needle and draws a sample of blood in a test tube. After the blood is drawn, he covers the injected area with a band-aid to stop bleeding. The typical blood specimen is then sent to the lab for analysis.
It takes less than 10 minutes to perform this test.
Is there any preparation required before the test?
There is no special preparation required for the Complete Blood Count test. But if the blood sample is going to be used for other tests, you may have to fast for a certain period. Your concerned physician will give you specific instructions on diet.
Are there any risks in the CBC test?
There is no possible risk or complication in taking the CBC test. You might have slight pain or bruise in the injected area for a very little period.
What does MCV Blood Test Result Mean?
MCV values represent the average size of your RBC circulating in your bloodstream. High MCV indicates your RBC size is larger than the average size in a healthy adult. Similarly, lower MCV results indicate that your MCV is smaller than average.
MCV values are measured by calculating a formula, in which – hematocrit is multiplied by ten and divided by the RBC count measured in millions of cells per cubic millimeter of blood
In simple terms,
MCV = hematocrit (percent) x 10 / red blood cell count (millions/mm3 blood)
Usually, a healthy adult should show an MCV value between 80 to 96 femtoliters per cell. (Femtoliter is cubic millimeter).
What Does it mean if MCV is High?
If your CBC test results shows MCV as more than 96 femtoliters per cell, it indicates high MCV.
Generally, MCV increases as men and women age. Nearly 30% of elderly people have elevated MCV levels without any specific medical condition. The medical reasons for high MCV include:
- Aplastic anemia
- Benign familial macrocytosis
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Liver disease
- Hemolytic anemias
- Intake of chemotherapy drugs
- Myelodysplastic syndromes/preleukemia
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
If the MCV levels are elevated at 125 femtoliters plus per cell, it generally is caused due to vitamin B12 deficiency. A study found that people having kidney diseases and having high MCV were twice as likely to die and over 3.5 times more likely to suffer from heart disease than those people having normal MCV.
What Does it mean if MCV is Low?
If your CBC test results show MCV as less than 80 femtoliters per cell, it indicates low MCV levels.
Low MCV values are usually a result of the following conditions:
- Anemia of chronic disease
- HbC and other hemoglobin hybrids
- Iron deficiency (there are many different causes of iron deficiency or anemia)
- Lead poisoning
- Sideroblastic anemia
- Thalassemia (there are several types. Around 30% of African Americans are though to suffer from it.)
The most common reason for MCV levels of 70 femtoliters per cell or lower are due to lack of iron or thalassemia.
How to improve low MCV levels in blood?
Low MCV levels are causes by iron deficiency in the blood. Taking iron-rich foods can help to improve your MCV levels. Following are some other ways to boost the MCV levels –
- Taking an iron-rich diet
- Iron supplements
- Adding vitamin C to your diet (to help you absorb iron)
- Avoid drinking black tea (lowers iron absorption)
How to reduce high MCV levels in blood?
On the other hand, high MCV values are most commonly a consequence of vitamin b-12 deficiency. This condition can be normalized by taking vitamin b-12 rich foods.
The CBC test (which includes MCV as a component) can be done in any of the US states. Our selected partner for testing, Healthlabs.com, offers over 4500 locations across the U.S. You are very likely to get a lab in close vicinity. To make a booking of your CBC test online now, click here:
Frequently Asked Questions
Will insurance cover my testing cost?
No, insurance will not be covered in the billing. However, they will provide you a receipt for insurance reimbursement purposes.
How should I book my appointment?
You can choose the most suitable provider from above and make an appointment by following the instructions mentioned by them.
Can I cancel my lab test order?
Yes, you can cancel your lab test order anytime before your testing. A refund will be initiated after deducting the cancellation fee. However, cancellation is at the discretion of the provider.
Do the providers offer result interpretations?
Yes, a few providers may provide doctor consultation who will take you through the results and provide clarification if needed.
How do I receive my report?
To ensure your privacy, the test report will be mailed to you by the provider.
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