Mean platelet volume is a test that measures and calculates the average size of the platelets. Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are one of three types of cells found in the blood. Their primary function, along with the coagulation factors, is to stop bleeding by clumping and clotting blood vessel injuries. High MPVs mean the platelets are larger, which could put an individual at risk for heart attack or stroke. Low MPVs indicate smaller platelets, meaning the individual is at risk for a bleeding disorder. Typically, the results of a MPV test are compared to the platelet count and the platelet distribution width (PDW) to provide a doctor with more information regarding the underlying condition. Assessment of platelets is typically done in a comprehensive blood count (CBC), which also measures features of red and white blood cells. The CBC is a very common test. A healthcare professional may run a CBC as a part of a routine health examination or when a person has signs and symptoms that may be related to disorders that affect blood cells, such as:
- Excessive bleeding
If someone has been diagnosed with a disease that is known to affect blood cells, a CBC will be ordered regularly to monitor the condition. Similarly, if someone is receiving treatment for a blood-related disorder, a CBC will be ordered regularly to determine if the treatment is effective. Further, some therapies (e.g., chemotherapy) can affect production of blood cells and some medications can decrease counts overall. In these cases, a CBC can be used to monitor these drug treatments.
A low MPV indicates that the average platelet size is small. Older platelets are generally smaller than younger ones; therefore, a low MPV may mean that a condition is affecting the production of platelets in the bone marrow.
A high MPV indicates a high number of younger, larger platelets in the blood. This may be due to the bone marrow producing and releasing platelets rapidly into circulation.
You may have a high MPV with a low, normal, or high platelet count, and looking at these results together helps provide a diagnosis:
- Low platelet count along with high MPV occurs when platelets are destroyed, usually by antibodies, an infection, or toxins. For example, immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a platelet deficiency caused by the destruction of platelets without a known cause.
- High platelet count along with high MPV can occur when the bone marrow produces too many platelets, typically due to a genetic mutation or cancer.
- Normal platelet count along with high MPV suggests conditions such as hyperthyroidism or chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).
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