Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin (MCH)

Mean corpuscular hemoglobin, MCH, is one of the components of a complete blood count blood test. It is a measurement of the amount of hemoglobin in the blood and can help determine the cause of anemia and other blood diseases in the body.

Together with the mean corpuscular volume, MCV, and the mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, MCHC, these three measurements form an index called the red blood cell indices. The MCV measures the size of the red blood cells, the MCH specifies the amount of hemoglobin in the blood per each cell, and the MCHC quantifies the level of hemoglobin in the blood per unit volume.

To calculate the mean corpuscular hemoglobin level, divide the total amount of hemoglobin in grams per 1000 milliliters of blood by the red blood cell count in millions per milliliter of blood. The resulting value is in picograms. A normal range for the mean corpuscular hemoglobin level is between 27 and 33 picograms for both men and women.

A low MCV level may be an indication of an iron deficiency. Iron-deficient blood conditions include hypochromic anemia, secondary anemia, thalassemia, and sideroblastic anemia. No iron supplemented treatment should be prescribed without first assessing the iron stores in the body. This can be accomplished through additional tests including, but not limited to, a ferritin blood test or a bone marrow biopsy.

A high MCV level may be an indication of a vitamin B12 deficiency, folate deficiency or chronic abuse of alcohol. Blood conditions that may be an indication of a high MCH level include hyperchromic anemia, pernicious anemia, polychromic anemia and macrocytic anemia.