Reticulocyte Count

Alternate Names

  • Retic Count
  • Reticulocyte Index
  • Corrected Reticulocyte

Red blood cells (RBCs) are develop and mature in the bone marrow and are necessary for the transport of oxygen to all cells of the body and carbon dioxide as a waste product to the lungs for removal from the body. Immature RBCs are called reticulocytes and should only be present in small amounts in the blood. Higher than normal levels of reticulocytes are an indication that the bone marrow is producing more RBCs than normal, while lower than normal levels are an indication that the bone marrow is not producing enough RBCs. Reticulocyte counts are used to diagnose anemia, to determine the cause of the anemia, and to monitor how well you are responding to treatment. A mathematical formula is used to determine the reticulocyte index, which is a direct indication of how well the bone marrow is working.

Low reticulocyte counts are seen in people with vitamin B12 (pernicious anemia) or folic acid deficiency, aplastic anemia, under-active pituitary or adrenal glands, chronic infection, cirrhosis of the liver, failure of the bone marrow, or cancer. High reticulocyte counts are seen in people with hemolytic anemia, sickle cell anemia, following excessive bleeding due to trauma, surgery, or other diseases, hemolytic disease of the newborn, following surgical removal of the spleen, leukemia, or during normal pregnancy.

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