Quantitation of Hemoglobin

The first quantitation of blood elements is attributed to Karl Vierordt of Tübingen, who published his method for counting RBC in 1852. The method was laborious, however, requiring some 3 hours, and other methods for diluting the blood and the use of pipets and counting chambers were subsequently developed. George Hayem of the University of Paris introduced a diluting solution in 1875. (It was the same saline solution he used intravenously to treat cholera.) Hayem observed that the average size of erythrocytes in chlorosis was smaller than normal (6 [im vs. 7.5 [im in diameter) and that the amount of hemoglobin per RBC was decreased in chlorosis (Wintrobe 1985).

The quantitation of hemoglobin specifically was introduced in 1899 by Theodur W. Tallquist of Finland. The results, reported as percentages of "normal," had a wide margin of error, but the method was used well into the mid-twentieth century. Other physicians had measured the hematocrit in centrifuged, anticoagu-lated blood, or had used the size of red blood cells and a color index as measures of hemoglobin concentration. In 1903 the "volume index" was introduced. It was clear that in various forms of anemia, the red cell size and concentration of hemoglobin in the red blood cells varied (Wintrobe 1985).

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