Doctors commonly run tests like a complete blood count or CBC during an annual physical checkup, before or after surgical treatment, or during a follow-up checkup. Included in the CBC is a test called mean platelet volume or MPV test. What is it and why is it needed? Plus, what could the results of an MPV blood test mean for your health?
What Is An MPV Blood Test?
As mentioned, physicians conduct several tests, one of which is the CBC. The blood contains numerous types of cells such as white blood cells, platelets, and red blood cells. Doctors want tests done on the blood simply because learning about the cells in the blood can indicate possible or current health problems.
Included in a CBC is an MPV blood test. It measures the size of one’s platelets which are tiny blood cells that are significant in blood clotting. The results of an MPV help a doctor identify illnesses of the bone marrow and blood loss disorders. Furthermore, one’s MPV test results help a doctor decide if he or she should run more tests.
When Do You Need An MPV Test?
At times, your attending physician may exclude an MPV in a CBC. However, you can choose to have an MPV done, especially if you notice the following symptoms:
- Bruising With No Idea What Caused It
- Purple-Colored Spots on the Skin
- Prolonged Bleeding on a Minor Injury or Cut
- Tiny, Red Spots on the Skin
What Is the Process of An MPV?
An MPV blood test is quite easy and not much work on the part of the patient is required. A phlebotomist, healthcare personnel who extracts blood, does all the work. He or she wraps a tourniquet on the arm to engorge the vein. Afterward, a needle is injected into the vein where blood is drawn. It is then injected into a sterile test tube. Pain on the area is minor, but you may notice swelling and bruising for a few days. Placing an ice pack on the area should help with that.
Your physician may instruct you to fast (no food or drinks for a set period) before the test. For other instructions, your doctor should let you know prior to the MPV test, especially if you are on prescription medications.
Interpreting the Results of an MPV Test
A CBC details your total blood count as well as the platelet count. This may also mention your platelet distribution width or PDW, which details the width of the platelets in your blood. The normal ranges are as follows:
- MPV: 8.9 to 11.8 femtoliters (fL)
- PDW: 9.6 to 15.3 percent
- Platelets: 150,000 to 450,000 per mL
However, what could a high and low MPV mean?
If your MPV test results are high, then it could be interpreted that you have platelets that are bigger than the average. It may be an indication that there is an overproduction of platelets. Also, if your platelet count is low but your MPV is high, then it means your bone marrow, where platelets are produced, is rapidly manufacturing platelets. What could a high MPV be associated with?
Do take note that a high MPV does not automatically relate to having cancer. If you have a history of cancer or if it runs in the family, then your attending physician may run more tests.
However, for those who do have cancer or a family history of it, an elevated MPV is a warning sign. Platelets may help spread cancer to healthy parts of the body where tumors could grow. An elevated MPV is associated with various types of cancer which include:
- Breast Cancer
- Colon Cancer
- Endometrial Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Stomach Cancer
Even if cancer does not run in the family, it is best to take note of the following signs and symptoms associated with cancer.
- Abdominal Pain
- Changes in Breast, Skin, or Bowel Habits
- Changes in Appetite
- Coughing or Hoarseness
- Difficulty Urinating Accompanied by Pain
- Lump Under or On Skin
- Thickening of the Skin
- Trouble in Swallowing
- Unexplained or Unusual Discharge or Bleeding in Stool or Urine
- Weakness or Weight Loss for No Apparent Reason
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Deficiency of Vitamin D
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
A low MPV would indicate the opposite. The platelets in your blood are less in size compared to the average. This could mean that the bone marrow is not manufacturing new platelets. Paired with the results of your CBC, this may indicate the following:
- Aplastic Anemia
- Cytotoxic Medications (Used in Chemo)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD (Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease)
Your doctor may order another test after a few days in cases where the MPV is above or below the average MPV. Other reasons that could have affected your MPV may include the following:
- Use of Birth Control Pills
- Recovery from Blood Loss Due to Surgery
- Recovery from Injury That Was Recent
- Recovery from a Deficiency of Vitamin B12
- Recovery from Binge Drinking
- Strenuous Physical Activity
When Is Further Testing Required?
It is important to remember that an MPV test is not a diagnostic test. The results of an MPV are taken into consideration with the results of other tests and of the symptoms you may have. For example, if you are manifesting symptoms of hypo- or hyperthyroidism, then your doctor will request a thyroid test in addition to the MPV test.
Also, if your high or low MPV is paired with symptoms of bruising or weight loss, then your doctor will set a test for a bone marrow biopsy. This test will determine if the bone marrow is functioning efficiently and can also classify certain cancer types.
On the other hand, an elevated or less than normal MPV may depend on one’s lifestyle. The results of an MPV blood test will be compared with the results of other tests to help your doctor rule out cancer or other conditions.