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Determine whether anemia is being caused by decreased production of red blood cells or by increased destruction (or loss) of red blood cells. The increased destruction or loss of red blood cells causes the bone marrow to make more reticulocytes.Monitor treatment for anemia. For example, a higher reticulocyte count indicates that iron replacement treatment or other treatment to reverse the anemia is effective


A reticulocyte count is a blood test that measures how rapidly immature red blood cells called reticulocytes are made by the bone marrow and then released into the bloodstream. Reticulocytes circulate in the bloodstream for about 2 days before developing into mature red blood cells. Normally, about 1% to 2% of the red blood cells in the bloodstream are reticulocytes.

The reticulocyte count increases during rapid blood loss or in the course of certain diseases in which red blood cells are destroyed prematurely. Also, spending an extended period of time at high elevations may cause reticulocyte counts to increase to help you adapt to the lower oxygen levels found at high altitudes.


No special preparation is required