Understanding Low MPV Results

This test measures mean platelet volume (MPV) in the blood

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A mean platelet volume (MPV) blood test shows the size of blood cells called platelets, which cause the blood to clot to stop bleeding. An MPV test is included in a complete blood count (CBC). The MPV results can be used along with the platelet count (how many platelets you have) and other measures to help diagnose certain bleeding or bone marrow conditions.

Causes of a low MPV count can include bone marrow failure, infections, kidney disease, and other conditions. This article discusses what to expect with an MPV blood test. It also covers conditions associated with certain results.

Causes of Low MPV - Illustration by Laura Porter

Verywell / Laura Porter

MPV Blood Test

When you get your MPV test, you will have blood taken from a vein in your arm. The blood is put in a tube and sent to a lab. Special machines at the lab look at your blood. Then, your healthcare provider gets a report with the results that detail your MPV levels. Your MPV blood test results may fall in the normal, low, or high range.

When you have a blood test, your MPV shows how big your platelets are. It can also show how active the cells are. The size of your platelets can show how old they are. The cells are bigger when they first come out of the bone marrow. Smaller platelets are usually older.

How MPV Is Written on Your Lab Results

The size of your platelets is written with a measurement called femtoliters. A normal MPV is 8–12 femtoliters.

Low MPV Test Results

If your MPV is less than 8 femtoliters, your platelets are small. Some health conditions can cause your platelets to be bigger or smaller than usual. However, a low MPV by itself does not mean you have a certain condition.

To figure out what is happening with your platelets, your doctor will also look at other results from your blood test. For example, they will see how many platelets you have (platelet count).

Here are some other blood test results that your doctor will look at if your MPV is low and what each combination of results might mean.

Low MPV and Low Platelet Count

Having a low number of platelets in your blood is called thrombocytopenia). If your MPV is low and your platelet count is low, it can be a sign that the tissue inside your bones (bone marrow) is not working. Your bone marrow is where cells are made.

In some health conditions, like aplastic anemia, your bone marrow stops making enough blood cells. If this happens, your MPV and your platelet count can both be low.

Low MPV and High Platelet Count

When your platelet count is higher than normal it's called thrombocytosis. A low MPV and a high platelet count can be a sign that your body is reacting to something. For example, inflammation, an infection, or cancer. 

Low MPV and Normal Platelet Count

You can have a low MPV and a normal platelet count. In this case, your body is making enough platelets, they're just small.

You might have this test results if you have a health condition like chronic kidney disease. It can also happen if you take medications that affect your blood cells.

Summary

Mean platelet volume (MPV) is part of your blood test results. It shows how big your platelets are. If the cells are smaller than usual, you have a low MPV. Health conditions and medications can affect your blood cells. To figure out why your MPV is low, your doctor will look at all of your test results. For example, they will check how many platelets you have.

A Word From Verywell

A low MPV by itself can not tell your doctor what is wrong. They will need to look at other parts of your blood for clues. They may have you do other tests or ask you questions about your health to figure out why your platelets are small.

You might find out that you have a health condition that can change your blood counts. Or maybe a medication that you take is affecting your blood cells. Your doctor can help you understand what this will mean for your health. There might be things that you can do to help get your MPV into a normal range.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is low MPV in a blood test?

    Mean platelet volume (MPV) tells you how big the platelets in your blood are. If your MPV is low, it means your platelets are smaller than normal.

  • What causes low MPV levels?

    Low MPV levels can be caused by different things. For example, platelets are made in your bone marrow. If there is a problem with that tissue, it can change your MPV.

    A low MPV can also be caused by inflammation, autoimmune diseases, infections, or cancer. It can also happen if your spleen is bigger than normal (enlarged). 

  • What does a high MPV mean?

    If your platelets are bigger than usual, your MPV will be high. Your doctor will look at other parts of your blood test to figure out why your platelets are large.


    Some health conditions that can make your platelets bigger than average include:

    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • A low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
    • A type of blood cancer called myeloproliferative disease
    • A pregnancy complication that causes high blood pressure (preeclampsia)
3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. MedlinePlus. MPV blood test.

  2. Lab Tests Online. Platelet count.

  3. Schmoeller D, Picarelli MM, Paz Munhoz T, et al. Mean platelet volume and immature platelet fraction in autoimmune disordersFront Med. 2017;0. doi:10.3389/fmed.2017.00146

By Julie Scott, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCNP
Julie is an Adult Nurse Practitioner with oncology certification and a healthcare freelance writer with an interest in educating patients and the healthcare community.