The first step in diagnosing any blood disorder is to perform a complete blood count. A phlebotomist will collect withdraw a small sample of your blood in the lab. Technicians will then count the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in the sample. They will also note whether any of the cells appear to malformed (in sickle cell anemia, red blood cells are sickle-shaped rather than round).
Reticulocytes are immature red blood cells, and the number of them in your blood indicates whether your body is producing an adequate supply of mature blood cells.
Clotting abnormalities can be caused by a number of disorders, from a lack of platelets to a late of the proteins, or clotting factors, necessary for clotting. The prothrombin time (PT) and the partial thromboplastin time (PTT) measure how long it takes for the liquid portion of your blood to clot.
Certain proteins are an essential part of the production of new blood cells. If your body is not producing the quantity of blood cells that it should, your doctor may look at your blood or urine for evidence of unusual proteins or antibodies.
Because your blood cells are produced inside your bones, bone marrow samples can help your doctor determine why your blood cells are abnormal, why there are too many of them, or why there are too few. Samples are usually collected from the hipbone, and a local anesthetic is required to numb the skin and bone tissue. The procedure is slightly painful but lasts only a few minutes.