Hemoglobin concentration, total hemoglobin mass and plasma volume in patients: implications for anemia
EHA Learning Center. Otto J. Sep 1, 2017; 196247
Topic: 1A Red cell and iron disorders
James M. Otto
James M. Otto
Login now to access Regular content available to all registered users.

Access to EHA Members only content is an EHA membership benefit.
Click here to join EHA or renew your membership here.


Journal Abstract
Discussion Forum (0)
Rate & Comment (0)

Co-Authors: James O.M. Plumb, Eleri Clissold, Shriya B. Kumar, Denis J. Wakeham, Walter Schmidt, Michael P.W. Grocott, Toby Richards, Hugh E. Montgomery

Abstract: In practice, clinicians generally consider anemia (circulating hemoglobin concentration < 120 g.l−1 in non-pregnant females and < 130 g.l−1 in males) as due to impaired hemoglobin synthesis or increased erythrocyte loss or destruction. Rarely is a rise in plasma volume relative to circulating total hemoglobin mass considered as a cause. But does this matter? We explored this issue in patients, measuring hemoglobin concentration, total hemoglobin mass (optimized carbon monoxide rebreathing method) and thereby calculating plasma volume in healthy volunteers, surgical patients, and those with inflammatory bowel disease, chronic liver disease or heart failure. We studied 109 participants. Hemoglobin mass correlated well with its concentration in the healthy, surgical and inflammatory bowel disease groups (r=0.687–0.871, P<0.001). However, they were poorly related in liver disease (r=0.410, P=0.11) and heart failure patients (r=0.312, P=0.16). Here, hemoglobin mass explained little of the variance in its concentration (adjusted R2=0.109 and 0.052; P=0.11 and 0.16), whilst plasma volume did (R2 change 0.724 and 0.805 in heart and liver disease respectively, P<0.0001). Exemplar patients with identical (normal or raised) total hemoglobin masses were diagnosed as profoundly anemic (or not) depending on differences in plasma volume that had not been measured or even considered as a cause. The traditional inference that anemia generally reflects hemoglobin deficiency may be misleading, potentially resulting in inappropriate tests and therapeutic interventions to address ‘hemoglobin deficiency’ not ‘plasma volume excess’. Measurement of total hemoglobin mass and plasma volume is now simple, cheap and safe, and its more routine use is advocated.

Article Number: 1477

Doi: 10.3324/haematol.2017.169680

Code of conduct/disclaimer available in General Terms & Conditions
Anonymous User Privacy Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies (Always Active)

MULTILEARNING platforms and tools hereinafter referred as “MLG SOFTWARE” are provided to you as pure educational platforms/services requiring cookies to operate. In the case of the MLG SOFTWARE, cookies are essential for the Platform to function properly for the provision of education. If these cookies are disabled, a large subset of the functionality provided by the Platform will either be unavailable or cease to work as expected. The MLG SOFTWARE do not capture non-essential activities such as menu items and listings you click on or pages viewed.


Performance Cookies

Performance cookies are used to analyse how visitors use a website in order to provide a better user experience.



Google Analytics is used for user behavior tracking/reporting. Google Analytics works in parallel and independently from MLG’s features. Google Analytics relies on cookies and these cookies can be used by Google to track users across different platforms/services.


Save Settings