MCV blood test importance, purpose, high, low , factors

MCV Blood Test

What is (Mean Corpuscular Volume) MCV in Blood Test?

MCV blood test full form is Mean Corpuscular Volume test. MCV blood test measures the average size of your red blood cells in most accurate manner. In our body, RBC contain Hemoglobin that carries Oxygen to every cell in our body. So, normal size of this RBC is vital that is measured by this test.

Actually, Corpuscles mean blood cells. In our body there are three types of corpuscles- Red Blood Cell (RBC), White Blood Cell (WBC) and Platelets. This test is usually a part of Complete Blood Count test. If the size of the RBC is smaller than normal, then MCV will be low. When the size of the RBC is larger than normal, then MCV is high.

MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume) Blood Test Purpose

When the size of the blood cell differs from normal, there is obviously some abnormality and to detect that abnormality MCV blood test is done. Actually MCV blood test is a helpful guide to diagnose different underlying medical conditions. When the average size of red blood cells are different than normal, then MCV test can give a prediction about your health condition. The main purpose of this MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume) blood test is to

  1. Differentiate different types of Anemia
  2. Predict the cause behind the Anemia
  3. Determine how one respond to the ongoing treatment
  4. Detect the abnormalities of WBC and Platelets.

MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume) Blood Test Importance

The Mean Corpuscular Volume Blood (MCV) Blood Test is generally done to detect anemia. But there are other several conditions for which MCV Blood Test is helpful.

  1. To predict mortality in Esophageal Cancer.
  2. To predict the effectivity of Chemotherapy and Radiation in Rectal Cancer.
  3. To determine prognosis of Chronic Kidney Disease.
  4. To determine Cognitive function of a person. Usually, it is seen that a high MCV is related with lower cognitive function in daily life.
  5. Recent research data suggests, in kidney disease, a high MCV increases the risk of renal failure. Also, these patients are 3.5 times more prone to suffer heart disease.

If your MCV blood test shows abnormal results, you may need to go for additional tests like Lipid Profile Test (particularly if there are symptoms of heart disease), T3 Test, T4 Test, TSH Test (when there is symptoms of thyroid disorder).

MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume) Blood Test Process

This is a routine blood test just like MCH Blood Test, MCHC Blood Test, Hemoglobin Test, etc. Particularly, for MCV Blood test no preparations are needed. One can go for MCV Blood Test at any time with or without empty stomach.

MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume) Blood Test Normal Range

Normal range of MCV is 80fl – 100fl. This range is applicable for both Men and Women. When the MCV level is below 80 fl, then it is Microcytic Anemia. If MCV level is more than 100 fl, then it is Macrocytic Anemia.

It is always good to have a normal MCV. Because if your MCV is high or low then there is abnormality of red blood cell size. So this is an indication that your body has some known or unknown health issues that needs medical attention.

But when anemia is present and MCV level is normal, then it is called Normocytic Anemia. It suggests either anemia is due to acute blood loss, or the anemia is due to chronic diseases.

MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume) Blood Test Low Level

When MCV blood test is low than normal it simply means RBC is smaller than normal. As already mentioned, low MCV suggests, Microcytic Anemia. Low MCV can be due to the following reasons

  1. Iron deficiency anemia due to any reason such as low dietary iron intake, heavy periods, decreased iron absorption from Guts (Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, etc.)
  2. Pregnancy
  3. In any other type of Anemia where there is lower than normal amount of RBC
  4. Thalassemia
  5. Anemia due to chronic diseases
  6. Anemia due to inflammation

MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume) Blood Test High Level

There are many conditions that can cause high MCV blood test level. Some of these conditions are

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency can be due to many reasons such as low dietary intake, low absorption rate of vitamin B12 from guts, autoimmune gastritis etc.
  • Folic acid deficiency
  • Liver disease
  • Alcoholism (consuming too much alcohol)
  • Thyroid problems (Hypothyroidism)
  • Low oxygen level in blood for a long time for many days
  • Carbon Monoxide poisoning
  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome
  • Benign familial macrocytosis (a genetic disorder)
  • Cold agglutinin disease
  • Drug such as Zidovudine, even medicines used to treat cancer, can cause high MCV level


  1. William’s Hematology Book, 9th Edition
  2. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine 20th edition
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