Diagnostic Highlights


Normal Result

Abnormality with Condition


Complete blood count and differential

Bone marrow aspiration/ bone marrow biopsy

Red blood cells (RBCs) 4.0-5.5 million/pL; white blood cells 4500-11,000/pL; hemoglobin (Hg) 12-18 g/dL; hematocrit (Hct) 37%-54%; reticulocyte count 0.5%-2.5% of total RBCs; platelets 150,000-400,000/pL

No leukemia cells present

Increased white blood cell counts (notably blast cells), lowered RBC count, insufficient platelets

Leukemia cells present; 30% blast cells required for diagnosis of acute leukemia; <5% blast cells for diagnosis of remission

Changes in numbers of different blood cell types and how the cells look under a microscope can suggest leukemia; overproduction of white blood cells halts production of RBCs and platelets

A thin needle is used to draw up a small amount of liquid bone marrow; a small cylinder of bone and marrow (about 1"-2" long) is removed with a slightly larger needle. The site of both samples is usually at the back of the hipbone.

Other Tests: Other supporting tests include x-rays, lymph node biopsy, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, cytochemistry, flow cytometry, immunocytochemistry, and lumbar puncture.

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