Reticulocyte Count test
The bone marrow generates immature red blood cells called reticulocytes, which enter the bloodstream and serve a vital function in delivering oxygen from the lungs to all cells in the body. Reticulocytes take around 48 hours to mature into fully functional red blood cells after their formation.
A reticulocyte count is used to measure the number of these cells in the blood. Abnormally high or low reticulocyte counts can indicate various health issues, such as anemia and bone marrow, liver, or kidney disorders. Monitoring and addressing any abnormalities in reticulocyte counts is vital to maintaining overall health and well-being.
What is it used for?
A reticulocyte count is usually used to:
- Determine the type of anemia. Anemia is a disorder in which the blood contains fewer red blood cells than usual. Anemia comes in various forms and causes.
- Check to see if the anemia treatment is effective.
- Examine if the bone marrow is creating enough blood cells.
- Examine bone marrow function following chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant.
Why do I need a reticulocyte count?
This test may be required if:
Individuals may also require this test if they have anemic symptoms. These include:
Newborn babies are sometimes tested for hemolytic disease of the newborn. This condition occurs when a mother's blood is incompatible with that of her unborn child. This is referred to as Rh incompatibility. The mother's immune system attacks the baby's red blood cells. As part of regular prenatal screening, most pregnant women are tested for Rh incompatibility.
What happens during a reticulocyte count?
A medical expert will take a blood sample from your arm's vein with a small needle. After placing the needle, a small amount of blood is collected in a test tube or vial. When the needle is placed or removed, individuals may feel a mild prickling sensation, and the procedure usually takes no more than five minutes.
When examining a newborn, a healthcare practitioner will sanitize the baby's heel with alcohol and puncture it with a small needle. The practitioner will collect a few droplets of blood and cover the area with a bandage.
Are there any risks to the test?
After a blood test, you may experience mild discomfort or discoloration at the location where the needle was inserted, but these symptoms generally disappear rapidly.
The risk of harm to your infant from a needle prick test is minimal. Your baby may experience a slight pinching sensation when the heel is punctured, and a tiny bruise may emerge at the site, but these should dissipate promptly.
What do the results mean?
If the results show an abnormally high number of reticulocytes (reticulocytosis), this could indicate that:
- You have hemolytic anemia
- The child has a hemolytic illness of the newborn
If the reticulocyte count is lower than normal, it could suggest you have:
These test results are frequently compared to those of other blood tests. Contact the medical professional if you have questions about your or your child's results.