The mean platelet volume (MPV) blood test is typically part of a complete blood count (CBC) test. A CBC reveals important information about the number of different blood cells in the body.
Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are fragments of larger cells made in the bone marrow called megakaryocytes.
What is the MPV blood test?
The test gives a platelet count per microliter (mcL) of blood.
The measurement is the number of platelets a person has, on average, per microliter.
The ideal platelet range is 150,000 to 400,000 per mcL in most healthy people.
Low platelet count is known as thrombocytopenia. High platelet count is known as thrombocytosis.
The test can be done on its own or as part of a CBC test. A doctor will often perform an MPV blood test if they suspect a person has a disorder that affects platelet count.
A person’s blood clots more easily when they have too many platelets.
Clotting is a natural protection against bleeding. The body produces more platelets during and following an injury.
However, because platelets cause blood clotting, they can also cause dangerous blood clots in the arms or legs. The blood clot may break off or travel to another area of the body.
The risk of a blood clot is higher in people who are confined to bed by illness or who cannot move their limbs.
Someone who has an elevated platelet count because of a recent injury but who must remain in bed may need monitoring to reduce the risk of blood clots as a result.
Less serious and temporary conditions
Some temporary conditions can cause a higher than normal MPV. A doctor may order a retest a few days or weeks later when this happens. Some common reasons that platelets are temporarily elevated include:
- recovering from a recent injury
- recovering from blood loss after surgery
- recovering from excessive drinking or vitamin B12 deficiency
- intense physical activity or exertion, such as from running a marathon
- using birth control pills
More serious and chronic conditions
If a person’s platelet count remains elevated, the following medical conditions may be responsible:
- Cancer: Lung, stomach, breast, and ovarian cancers, as well as lymphoma, can cause high platelet counts. Additional blood testing, imaging scans, or a biopsy can test for cancer.
- Anemia: People with iron-deficiency or hemolytic anemia may have high platelets. Further blood testing can detect most forms of anemia.
- Inflammatory disorders: Diseases that cause an inflammatory immune response, such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can increase platelet count. A person will have other symptoms in most cases.
- Infections: Some infections, such as tuberculosis, can cause high platelets.
- Splenectomy: Removal of the spleen can cause a temporary increase in platelets.
Common causes of low platelet volume include:
- Viruses: Viruses, such as mononucleosis, HIV, AIDS, measles, and hepatitis may deplete platelets.
- Medication: Drugs, such as aspirin, H2-blockers, quinidine, antibiotics containing sulfa, and some diuretics may lower platelet count.
- Cancer: Cancer that has spread to the bone marrow can harm the body’s ability to make new platelets. Lymphoma and leukemia are common culprits.
- Anemia: A type of anemia called aplastic anemia reduces the number of all kinds of blood cells, including platelets.
- Infection: A bacterial infection, especially the blood infection sepsis, can reduce platelet count.
- Autoimmune disorders: Autoimmune diseases such as lupus and Crohn’s disease lower platelet count by causing the body to attack its tissue.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy harms existing tissue in addition to cancer cells, which can make it difficult for the body to produce platelets.
- Poisoning: Exposure to some pesticides can damage platelets.
- Cirrhosis: Liver cirrhosis, often due to excessive drinking, can reduce platelet count.
- Chronic bleeding: Any disorder that causes ongoing uncontrolled bleeding, such as stomach ulcers, can deplete platelets.
Platelet count also tends to decline with age. A platelet count that is lower than it once was, or that is on the lower end of normal, may not be a cause for concern in an older adult—especially if there are no other symptoms.
Changes in MPV may mean that a person has a chronic illness or that there is an issue with the bone marrow.
It is generally not possible, however, to diagnose a medical condition based on platelet count alone. People should talk to a doctor about further testing if a blood test reveals low platelets.
It is advisable to inform the doctor about any other symptoms, which can help narrow down testing options.
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