HBCBC Test | Hemogram | Complete blood count

To support clinical findings and to confirm the clinical findings tests are suggested. One of the most important and commonly done test by the doctors is HBCBC test. It is also called a hemogram or complete blood count test.

What is HBCBC test?

HBCBC test is as we said previously is a hemogram or a complete blood count test. This test is the basic test of all investigations. It indicates the hemoglobin level with counts of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in your blood.

Where is this test available?

HbCBC or hemogram is a simple test available at all pathology labs. Being a very basic test there is no pathology lab which does not do this test. This test does not need a very specialized laboratory.

How is the sample collected for this test?

Most common sample is collected from the peripheral vein for the hemogram. The area of skin above the target vein is cleaned with spirit and alcohol. The sample may be collected with syringe and needle from the cubital fossa or in small children from the back of the wrist.

white plastic syringe
Blood collection methods for the test

In which type of bottle the sample is to be collected for HBCBC test?

This sample needs a special type of bottle. The bottle or bulb that does not allow the blood to form the clot. 

This needs the use of anticoagulants. Anticoagulant is usually EDTA. It is added as a powder or drop of liquid. 

The premedicated EDTA bulbs are readily available at a cheap price nowadays. They can be used.

The sample is gently mixed with anticoagulant after the collection and pouring the sample into the collection bulb from the syringe.

set of blood test vials arranged on pink table
EDTA Vials for blood collection for HBCBC test

Is it collected when you have an empty stomach?

No, you need not to have an empty stomach for this test. Sample can be collected anytime as decided.

If the collection of blood is planned with other tests that need to be collected empty stomach may be your doctor may suggest you to give a sample when you are empty stomach.

Some tests usually done along with this test give better results and are accurate when you have a fever. If a blood culture test or sample for malaria is planned together with this test then it is better to collect the sample when you have a spike of fever.

What does the HBCBC test count?

HBCBC test counts following components of the blood:

red blood cells on white surface
Red blood cells are examined for number and morphology.
  • Hb: Haemoglobin is counted in this test. It indicates the level of protein in the red blood cell that is bound to iron. Function of haemoglobin is to carry the oxygen to variou organs. Your lungs take oxygen from the air and that oxygen is bound to the haemoglobin in your blood. It is released to the desired organ when the blood reaches to the target organ. Deficiency of haemoglobin is called as anaemia can present as fatigue, feeling of weakness, loss of appetite and growth failure in children.
  • WBC: Important part of HBCBC is the WBC. White blood cells are part of your immunity. Again white blood cells are lymphocytes, neutrophils, monocytes, basophils and eosinophils. The total along with the differential count of these cells is part of the CBC test. Different cells are increased or decreased in different illnesses. In some illnesses this increased or decreased count also is used to judge the severity of the disease. Thus it helps in diagnosis and monitoring too.
  • Red blood cell indices: Most of the new machines that are used for the HBCBC test give information about the morphology of the RBC. This helps immensely in different conditions. It also helps to differentiate different types of anaemia. Differentiating this morphology helps in diagnosis and treatment. Size of RBC is reduced in microcytic anemias.
  • Hematocrit: Your hemogram or HBCBC test also indicates how thick is your blood. Higher the hematocrit, the more dehydrated you are. Hematocrit value helps in management of the conditions like polycythemia and dengue fever.
  • Platelet count: Platelets are an important part of your blood. They are part of the clotting mechanism. They are reduced in viral diseases like dengue. Platelet count may be increased in some anemias like iron deficiency anemias.
Values detected by HBCBC test
White blood cell count and differential count like nutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, basophils and eosinophils
Platelet count
RBC indices like MCV, MCHC, MCH, RDW
Hematocrit values

What are the Benefits of the test?

We get a very valuable information on this hemogram when used in correlation with clinical picture of the patient. Being a very simple and basic test available everywhere HBCBC test is used as simple firstline screening tests for many conditions.

  • Test being simple not a very precision is needed for this test.
  • In anaemias it helps in diagnosis and differentiating anaemias. It gives a fair idea about the cause of the condition so that we can know if further tests are needed and what treatment can be suggested.
  • In many forms of blood cancers HBCBC is a primary screening test. In many forms of leukemias are first suspected depending on findings of the CBC test. Many forms of bone marrow cancers are detected when multiple cell lines are affected in CBC.
  • Condition like polycythemia is detected on HBCBC test. Further tests are suggested as needed depending on findings.
  • In many infections the findings on CBC test are deranged depending on whether we can diagnose or refute the diagnosis of the illness.
  • We get idea of infections like dengue when we see the derangement on HBCBC tests.
  • In many illnesses like dengue and polycythemia the value of hematocrit plays an important role.

What are the Limitations of the test?

Like all the tests available in the lab, the HBCBC test has limitations too. The limitations of HBCBC test are as follows:

  • Non specific: This is a non specific test. It alone does not help in diagnosis of a disease. For the confirmation of the different conditions further tests may be needed.
  • This test alone is not useful. Correlation with clinical pictures is always needed.
  • The accuracy of this test may be affected by accuracy of the lab. The mistake can be done at any level from collection of the samples and carrying them to the lab, may be while performing a test or while entering values into the report.
  • In many diseases this test may come normal till the patient is very serious.
  • The normal values may change in different patients depending on age, and condition of the patient.
  • In some conditions machines may give wrong values on HBCBC test. The findings should be confirmed on manual count of the different cell lines.
Simple testNon specific test
Diagnosis od anaemia and types of anaemiaDone alone may not be useful
Primary screening test for cancersAccuracy may affect depending on lab
Detects polycythemiaDoes not detect cause
Detects possibility of infectionsDoes not detect exact which infection
Detects possibility of dengueMay be normal in some diseases even when patient is serious
Detects hematocrit valueMachines may give wrong values manual verification may be needed
Detects differential cell countProne to human errors too.
Benefits and limitations of HBCBC test

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