Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV)
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Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV)

April 29, 2022

Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV)

What is Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV)?

MCV stands for mean corpuscular volume. There are three main types of corpuscles (blood cells) in your blood–red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. An MCV blood test measures the average size of your red blood cells, also known as erythrocytes. Red blood cells move oxygen from your lungs to every cell in your body. Your cells need oxygen to grow, reproduce, and stay healthy. If your red blood cells are too small or too large, it could be a sign of a blood disorder such as anaemia, a vitamin deficiency, or other medical condition.

Why is this analysis important?

An MCV blood test is often part of a complete blood count (CBC), a routine screening test that measures many different components of your blood, including red cells. It may also be used to diagnose or monitor certain blood disorders.

What are some of the causes of high Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV)?

If your results show that your red blood cells are smaller than normal, it may indicate:

  • Iron-deficiency anaemia or other types of anaemia (anaemia is a condition in which your blood has a lower than normal amount of red blood cells. Iron-deficiency anaemia is the most common form of anaemia).

  • Thalassemia, an inherited disease that can cause severe anaemia

What are some of the causes of low Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV)?

If your results show that your red blood cells are larger than normal, it may indicate:

  • A vitamin B12 deficiency

  • A deficiency in folic acid, another type of B vitamin

  • Liver disease

  • Hypothyroidism

Other considerations

If your MCV levels are not in the normal range, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have a medical problem needing treatment. Diet, activity level, medicines, a women's menstrual cycle, and other considerations can affect the results.