Looking Back To Our Roots: 80 Years of Wintrobe’s Indices

*Eloísa Urrechaga,1 Silvia Izquierdo,2 Jesús F. Escanero3

1. Laboratory, Hospital Galdaka-Usansolo, Hematology Laboratory, Galdakao, Spain
2. Clinical Genetics, Service of Clinical Biochemistry, Miguel Servet University Hospital, Zaragoza, Spain
3. University of Zaragoza, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Zaragoza, Spain
*Correspondence to eloisa.urrechagaigartua@osakidetza.net

Disclosure: No potential conflict of interest.
Received: 10.02.14 Accepted: 28.05.14
Citation: EMJ Hema. 2014;1:133-137.

Abstract

This year (2014) we are celebrating the 80th anniversary of Dr Maxwell Myer Wintrobe’s pioneer works, one of the most important contributions in clinical laboratory and medicine. Red cell indices continue to provide an essential support to the diagnosis and classification of anaemia. The erythrocyte indices, such as mean cell volume, mean cell hemoglobin concentration, and mean cell hemoglobin, are called the Wintrobe’s indices. Automation in hematology has progressed steadily since Wallace Coulter first applied electrical impedance technology to counting red cells and white cells. Technological advances being incorporated into hematology analysers since then are now allowing access to more cellular information than was ever available before through a ‘simple routine complete blood count’. Current research is beginning to demonstrate that this information also has great potential to identify cellular changes that typically occur in several important medical conditions-bringing us all one step closer to using hematology analysers as more than just simple cell counters, but instead as powerful tools for the management of any medical condition that impacts the biology of blood cells. There are increasing amounts of data provided, which require specialist knowledge to interpret as well as to understand the limitations in the measurement of the parameter. Both laboratory scientists and clinicians need to keep up-to-date with new parameters and methods in hematology, implying a stronger collaboration between them to improve clinical decision-making.

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