ISSN 2398-2977      

Blood: packed cell volume (PCV)


Synonym(s): PCV, microhematocrit


  • The packed cell volume (PCV) or hematocrit measures percentage of the blood occupied by red blood cells.
  • Measured in %.
  • Separation of blood into 3 layers (red blood cells (RBC)   Blood: erythrocyte count (RBC)  , buffy coat (BC) and plasma) by centrifugation.
  • Determined by red blood cell numbers and state of hydration.
  • Valuable screening test.


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  • Mix blood well.
  • Fill capillary tube leaving at least 15 mm unfilled.
  • Seal end of tube and wipe clean.
  • Centrifuge for 5 minutes at 10,000 rpm.
  • Read immediately using scaled card or other instrument.


  • Widely available; only requires a centrifuge.

Technique (intrinsic) limitations

  • Individual variation of normal PCV.
  • Variation between breeds and types.
  • Cannot distinguish between increased red cell numbers and decreased plasma volume (dehydration). Therefore, total plasma protein (TPP) must always be read simultaneously.

Result Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Barrelet A (2004) Laboratory tests in equine practice Part 2: Haematological analyses. UK Vet (8), 13-23.


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Anemia: blood loss

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Blood: biochemistry - albumin

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Blood: biochemistry - iron

Blood: biochemistry - total bilirubin

Blood: biochemistry - total protein

Blood: collection

Blood: erythrocyte count (RBC)

Blood: hemoglobin (Hb) concentration

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Blood: mean corpuscular volume (MCV)

Blood: overview

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