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What Is a Hemoglobinometer?

Red blood cells containing hemoglobin.
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  • Written By: Dulce Corazon
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2014
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A hemoglobinometer, also known as Hb-meter, is a laboratory instrument used in analyzing the hemoglobin content of the blood. Hemoglobin is an important component of red blood cells (RBCs). It is a protein that is responsible for carrying oxygen to different parts of the body and carbon dioxide for excretion out of the lungs. This protein is also responsible in keeping red blood cells in their normal disc shape. The hemoglobinometer is usually operated by trained personnel in the laboratory.

In the past, a separate hemoglobinometer was often used in the laboratory to get the hemoglobin readings. With the advent of blood-counting machines, the level of hemoglobin, as well as the number of RBCs and white blood cells (WBCs) are usually included in the complete blood count (CBC) test. The CBC is often performed on patients with anemia, infections, and other diseases. Anemia is a condition in which there is a decrease of red blood cells in the circulation. This test is often done by extracting blood from the arm vein, mixing the sample with reagents, and reading results produced by the machine.

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There are also smaller and portable hemoglobinometers that doctors can utilize in their clinics. They often use one of these when the need arises and while the patient waits. Depending on the result of the test, doctors may request additional tests, or proceed with treatment. This is particularly common in the clinics of obstetricians and gynecologists because women are prone to develop anemia due to menstruation, pregnancy, and other reproductive problems. Obstetricians are doctors who treat pregnant women and gynecologists are those who deal with women's reproductive health issues.

In newborns and pediatric patients, especially those born prematurely, the use of the portable hemoglobinometer is often convenient. This medical instrument can be brought to the hospital's nursery room where infants can be tested even while they are in the incubator. The amount of blood sample needed is also very small, thus, preventing the onset of anemia caused by frequent blood monitoring.

In using the portable hemoglobin analyzer, the blood sample to be used can be drawn from the vein, arter,y or capillary. The site of puncture, such as the finger, is usually cleaned with alcohol before the sample is placed in the hemoglobinometer for reading. Within several seconds, the hemoglobin reading then appears on the display screen of the hemoglobinometer. This instrument is also considered useful in emergency situations due to its simplicity of use, accuracy and fast result delivery.

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Perdido
Post 6

Does anyone know if you can buy a hemoglobinometer to use at home? I suffer from chronic anemia, and it would be nice to be able to check my hemogblobin levels without going to a doctor.

Some people get queasy about drawing their own blood, but it doesn't bother me. I'm so used to watching nurses do it that I don't mind at all.

I am afraid to ask my doctor if I can get one of these instruments to use at home, because I think he might tell me no just to keep me coming back to him. It would save me so much money if I could just stay home and test my own blood.

cloudel
Post 5

I have sickle cell anemia. My hemoglobin is abnormal, and my red blood cells are shaped like sickles. This causes them to get lodged in my blood vessels.

I remember being nine years old and having my blood tested. The doctor used a hemoglobinometer to draw a sample. He already suspected I had the disease, because my skin had turned yellow, and in addition to having the symptoms of regular anemia, I had been having chest pains.

The test confirmed the diagnosis. Ever since then, I have had to be on a variety of drugs. I have so many pains and infections now, and the hemoglobinometer served as the messenger to tell me that my life would be drastically different than I had planned.

Oceana
Post 4

@orangey03 – I think that many children dreaded the portable hemoglobinometer! I know I did, and I started doing all I could to avoid it.

I was found to be anemic, but my hatred of the finger prick spurred me on to good health. I never put up a fight while taking my medicine. I started begging my mom to feed me foods high in iron so I wouldn't have to keep going back to the doctor.

It worked. The nurse only had to use the hemoglobinometer on me one more time to prove that I had recovered.

When I think back on what bothered me so bad about it, I think it was mostly the anticipation of pain. The nurse would always tell me I was about to feel a stinging, and that probably scared me worse than the actual pricking.

orangey03
Post 3

I remember a nurse using a hemoglobinometer on me as a child several times. She found that I was anemic, so the doctor placed me on medication. I had to come back in for retesting ever so often.

I hated the finger prick with a passion. The nurse would grab my fingertip and squeeze it, bringing the blood to the surface. Then, she would prick it with the instrument, and blood would spring forth.

At the time, I had never had to give a large blood sample with needles and tubes, so I didn't know that the hemoglobinometer was probably the least painful way to give a blood sample. The nurses bribed me with lollipops, and though I cried every time, they always rewarded me for enduring it.

helene55
Post 2

@watson42- It's been awhile since I heard a really bad story about giving blood. I know some people who have had bad side effects, but I think it was more about fear of needles than iron levels or anything like that.

I personally have a tendency to get anemic easily, and my doctor actually recommended I get one of the simpler, portable kinds of hemoglonimeter so I can monitor it better myself. They're sort of expensive, though.

watson42
Post 1

I have used a hemoglobinometer several times when giving blood at a blood drive. They're handy, except that I often feel like the prick I get on my finger for them hurts more than actually getting blood drawn later on.

I think they must be really accurate, though. I've never had a problem with bad side effects when I've been told my hemoglobin is high enough, and I've always felt better for it later when I've been told my iron is too low.

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