The sensitivities and specificities of the mean cell volume (MCV), the red cell distribution width (RDW), and blood smear hypersegmentation for B12 deficiency were reviewed in 515 patients whose B12 levels were determined. 61 patients had B12 levels less than 200 pg/ml. 43 patients were defined as B12 deficient (n = 13) or non- B12 deficient (n = 30). Hypersegmentation was more sensitive (91 %) than MCV > 95 fl (62%) or RDW > 15% (54%) in detecting B12 deficiency. The MCV and the RDW should not be relied on when screening for B12 deficiency; examination of the blood smear for hypersegmentation is essential.

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