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Erythropoietin test

Definition:

The erythropoietin test measures the amount of a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) in blood.

The hormone tells stem cells in the bone marrow to make more red blood cells. EPO is made by cells in the kidney. These cells release more EPO when blood oxygen levelĀ is low.



Alternative Names:

Serum erythropoietin; EPO



How the Test is Performed:

A blood sample is needed.



How to Prepare for the Test:

No special preparation is necessary.



How the Test will Feel:

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.



Why the Test is Performed:

This test may be used to help determine the cause of anemia, polycythemia (high red blood cell count) or other bone marrow disorders.

A change in red blood cells will affect the release of EPO. For example, persons with anemia have too few red blood cells, so more EPO is produced.



Normal Results:

The normal range is 0 to 19 milliunits per milliliter (mU/mL).

The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test result.



What Abnormal Results Mean:

Increased EPO level may be due to secondary polycythemia. This is an overproduction of red blood cells that occurs in response to an event such as low blood oxygen level. The condition may occur at high altitudes or, rarely, because of a tumor that releases EPO.

Lower-than-normal EPO level may be seen in chronic kidney failure , anemia of chronic disease , or polycythemia vera .



Risks:

Risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)


References:

Kaushansky K. Hematopoiesis and hematopoietic growth factors. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 156.

Kremyanskaya M, Najfeld V, Mascarenhas J, Hoffman R. The polycythemias. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, Heslop HE, Weitz JI, Anastasi J, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 67.




Review Date: 9/22/2015
Reviewed By: Charles Silberberg, DO, private practice specializing in nephrology, affiliated with New York Medical College, Division of Nephrology, Valhalla, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Morristown Medical Center

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Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center

99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center

175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
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Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

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Goryeb Children's Hospital

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Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

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