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Mean Corpuscular Volume

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Updated June 06, 2014

Definition: Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is a blood test that measures the average red blood cell volume (size). MCV is part of a Complete Blood Count (CBC) test. MCV is used to tell the difference between types (causes) of anemia. If MCV is above the normal range (high), the anemia is referred to as macrocytic, because macro means large. If MCV is below the normal range (low), the anemia is referred to as microcytic, because micro means small.

A high MCV, indicating macrocytic anemia, can have a variety of causes including alcoholism, liver disease, and deficiencies of vitamin B12 and folic acid (folate). A low MCV, indicating microcytic anemia, is most commonly caused by iron deficiency. Blood loss, such as what might occur with tumors in the colon and other parts of gastrointestinal tract, can cause the low iron levels that lead to microcytic anemia

Pronunciation: meen core-pus-cue-lar volume
Also Known As: MCV
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