PCV in blood test

Packed cell volume: What is PCV in blood test ?


PCV or “Packed Cell Volume” test, which is also known as the hematocrit test, is a type of blood test done to diagnose multiple abnormalities in the blood like – polycythemia, dehydration or anemia, etc.

PCV Blood test, basically, determines the proportion of red blood cells in your blood. A doctor can prescribe this test to you for a variety of reasons, for example, – to detect health abnormalities, the need for blood transfusion, or to monitor the response to treatment.

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What is PCV in blood tests?

PCV in blood tests means the count of hematocrit cells in the blood. Hematocrit cells are, generally, red blood cells and the test that measures these cells is known as the Packed volume test (PCV Test) or Hematocrit test.

Full formPacked Cell Volume test
Other Name (s)Hematocrit, VPRC, EVF
Test-typeBlood Test
Test methodsAutomated analyzer, Centrifuging EDTA, Spectrophotometry
Normal valuesSee the below table

PCV or Packed Cell Volume test is popularly known as the hematocrit test which means – “to separate blood”. It is also known as the Erythrocyte volume fraction (EVF) or Volume of packed red cells (VPRC) test.

It is a normal blood test that measures how much of the blood consists of cells. Low or too high PCV readings may be a sign of certain diseases.

Why PCV or Hematocrit test is done

PCV or Hematocrit test is part of a complete blood count test that determines the proportion of red blood cells in your blood. A hematocrit test is done or often referred by a doctor to diagnose your health, monitor the response to treatment, check the need for blood transfusion, or interpret the health conditions.

This is a very simple test and the readings obtained from it can provide a lot of information regarding the patient’s medical conditions and also help doctors to make the right treatment plan.

Normal values

If the PCV test has shown the normal PCV readings that means no health abnormality is present and therefore you need not worry about your health.

Normal values of the PCV may vary substantially with race, age, and gender. Gender-based normal ranges are given below for reference –

GenderNormal values
Male38.3 – 48.6
Female35.5 – 44.9

What if you have a lower PCV than normal

If PCV is low that means you have low red blood cells (RBC) and are suffering from Anaemea or any health-related problems.

Once the doctor sees your low PCV he may advise you to undergo some further lab tests to reveal the underlying causes of the disease and to arrive at a solid conclusion.

Reason/causes of low PCV

There are certain medical conditions that contribute to Low PCV, which include –

  • Anemia
  • Mineral or vitamin (E.g: B12 or folate) deficiencies
  • Renal diseases (E.g. CKD, including if you are on Haemolysis)
  • Blood loss due to accident or long-term disease
  • Any Inflammatory conditions such as – Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Infection or a white blood cell disorder such as – leukemia or lymphoma
  • Side effects of any medicine

What if you have a higher PCV than normal

Increased PCV implies dehydration or an abnormal increase in red blood cell production. In the common cases of dehydration, the RBC gets concentrated in the blood reflecting higher PCV readings.

However, a doctor asks you to undergo some further screenings for better findings of the causes.

Reason/causes of high PCV

The most common reason for elevated PCV (Hematocrite) is dehydration which can be treated at home by taking an adequate amount of fluid and water. However, this is not a reason for all cases as some abnormal health conditions can lead to higher hematocrit (PCV) such as –

How to prepare for the PCV test

You need not do any special preparation before this test because this is a simple test. However, if you are uncomfortable before the test, communicate with your doctor clearly and give yourself some relief.

Additionally, if you are on regular medication or have any medical problems, please brief your doctor before the test procedure actually begins.

Test procedure

No special procedure is followed while collecting the sample. A lab technician simply inserts a needle and draws a blood sample from a vein in your arm.

While blood is taken from your vein you may feel little pain or prickling. You may also feel tenderness at the site however, all these may go away after some time by themselves.

In most cases you may resume normal activities afterward, there are very less but possible chances of happening anything wrong during the procedure so always be cautious about things and consult your doctor in case of an emergency.


There are two other ways to calculate the PCV in blood, for example – spectrophotometry and capillary tube methods but most labs use a self-controlled and fully automated analyzer to read the number of PCV in blood.

This analyzer automatically measures the PCV counts in your blood and brings a printout of the reports.

Generally, the results from your hematocrit test are reported based on the percentage of your blood volume that is composed of red blood cells (RBCs).

Please note normal results may also vary from one medical practice to another. Your hematocrit or PCV test results just give an overview of your medical conditions to your doctor.

For a better diagnosis of disease always consult your doctor with reports and tell him all about the symptoms you are experiencing. Based on these symptoms a doctor may ask you to have some other test to investigate the underlying causes of the disease.

Factors affecting results

High or Low PCV test results do not always mean that you have some health-related disorders because these test results sometimes may get adversely affected by some factors and give inaccurate or misleading results. Discuss your doctor and help him figure out the situation, if –

  • you are living at a high altitude place and have come to see a doctor in another city
  • recently had blood loss in an accident
  • you are pregnant
  • got a recent blood transfusion
  • you have severe dehydration

Important of test

The hematocrit test is very useful in diagnosing certain medical conditions. The test results interpret specific health problems in your body and help doctors to make the right treatment plan for you.

PCV Test cost – PCV test cost in India

Like any other lab test, the PCV blood test prices may vary from one lab to another. The automated test cost of the PCV is less likely priced than other modes of tests.

The PCV test cost in India may differ between Rs. 100 to 200 INR for different cities or labs.

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