Mean Platelet Volume

MPV is a Measurement of the Average Size of Platelets

Complete Blood Count (CBC). Credit: Javier Larrea / GettyImages

Definition of Mean Platelet Volume - MPV

Mean platelet volume (MPV) is a measure of the average size of platelets found in a blood sample. MPV is part of a Complete Blood Count (CBC) test, which is used in health screening as well as monitoring treatment for many conditions The MPV is measured when the CBC blood sample is analyzed in most modern Coulter blood counters. It is part of the overall assessment of your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

 It is used by your healthcare team, along with other blood tests, to check for certain conditions.

What Does the Mean Platelet Volume - MPV - Tell About Your Health?

Platelets are the cells responsible for clotting. They are what keep us from bleeding excessively when cut, and they help patch up any holes in blood vessels throughout the body. They are produced in the bone marrow by megakaryocytes. The platelets themselves are just pieces of megakaryocytes, without nuclei, released into the bloodstream from the marrow. Usually, younger platelets are larger than older platelets.

High Mean Platelet Volume - MPV

A high MPV is usually a sign that there are more young platelets circulating in your bloodstream. If you have had a procedure such as major surgery, your body is using up platelets to repair the cuts to the blood vessels. In response, your bone marrow releases more of the young, larger platelets and your MPV is elevated.

A high MPV with a low platelet count shows the bone marrow is actively producing platelets, but they have been or are being used up by some process in your body. Your doctor will assess this in light of what conditions or procedures you have had and do further tests if needed.

Conditions that may cause an elevated MPV include idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, which leads to abnormal destruction of platelets.

It can also be seen in blood cancers, such as leukemia.

Low Mean Platelet Volume - MPV

A low MPV along with a low platelet count can point towards disorders affecting the bone marrow that slow down or decrease the production of platelets, such as aplastic anemia. A low MPV can be seen with high, low or normal platelet counts in sepsis, splenomegaly, chronic renal failure, or treatment with drugs that suppress blood production.

Checking MPV Results

When the MPV value is high, the lab will usually check it with a differential blood smear. The technologist will make and stain a slide of your blood and look at it under the microscope to see if the platelets are clumping together or if you actually have giant platelets. The CBC test requires anticoagulated blood and is usually drawn in a purple top tube. Clumping platelets are probably due to the blood sample being clotted. This may require a repeat blood draw, and some people need their blood drawn in a different tube as their platelets still clump with the anticoagulant used in the purple top tube.

Some people truly have giant platelets, either from immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) or Bernard-Soulier disease.


Platelet Count, Lab Tests Online, American Association for Clinical Chemistry, accessed 2/16/2016.

Leader A, Pereg D, Lishner M. "Are platelet volume indices of clinical use? A multidisciplinary review." Ann Med. 2012 Dec;44(8):805-16. doi: 10.3109/07853890.2011.653391.

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