Erythropoietin (EPO) Serum Test
The erythropoietin (EPO) serum test is not a standard test. It is used specifically to help diagnose the cause of a patient’s anemia, which is the lack of production of red blood cells or the hemoglobin in those cells. This test measures the amount of EPO being produced by the kidneys when anemia does not appear to be caused by an iron deficiency, vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, or internal bleeding.
The EPO test is generally administered after an abnormal result from other blood tests included in the complete blood count, which is a group of tests that count your red blood cells, measure the amount of hemoglobin in your blood, and compare how many red blood cells there are versus other types of cells in your blood. If the values of these tests are low or have decreased over time, an erythropoietin test may be appropriate.
People who have chronic kidney disease may have their erythropoietin levels measured at regular intervals to insure that they are still producing adequate levels of the hormone. Those experiencing anemia but not producing a sufficient number of new red blood cells are likely to have a decrease in bone marrow function. If the levels of erythropoietin are low in an anemic individual then the kidneys are likely under-producing the hormone.
Testing erythropoietin level does not require fasting beforehand and results are available in two to three days.
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