How reliable are hematocrit (Hct) levels to determine blood loss in patient with significant hemorrhage?

Updated: Oct 08, 2018
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Obviously, significant hemorrhage produces anemia. Immediately after blood loss, the Hct cannot be used as a reliable method to determine the quantity of lost blood, because the patient loses plasma as well as RBCs. After acute hemorrhage, the Hct falls for 24-48 hours until the plasma volume is replaced. At that time, anemia is normochromic and normocytic with normal cellular indices, because the cells in the peripheral blood have been produced prior to bleeding (see Iron Deficiency Anemia).


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