Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is the average volume of red cells in a specimen. MCV is elevated or decreased in accordance with average red cell size; ie, low MCV indicates microcytic (small average red blood cells size), normal MCV indicates normocytic (normal average red blood cells size), and high MCV indicates macrocytic (large average red blood cells size).

The reference range for MCV is 80-96 fL/red cell in adult.  Reference ranges may vary depending on the individual laboratory and patient's age.

Indication of MCV result

There are many things your red blood cells can tell your doctor about your health. Here are just a few of the important points about red blood cell distribution width:

  • In most cases, the MCV can help determine several points about your health, from your chances of developing an iron deficiency to different types of anemia that you may be suffering from.
  • The MCV is most helpful in alerting your doctor to the fact that there is a problem, which will then prompt him or her to call for further tests that will provide more detailed results.

Types of anemia according to the MCV level

Anemias are defined based on cell size (MCV) and amount of Hemoglobin (MCH).

  • MCV less than lower limit of normal: microcytic anemia
  • MCV within normal range: normocytic anemia
  • MCV greater than upper limit of normal: macrocytic anemia
  • MCH less than lower limit of normal: hypochromic anemia
  • MCH within normal range: normochromic anemia
  • MCH greater than upper limit of normal: hyperchromic anemia