Why is an erythropoietin (EPO) test performed?
The erythropoietin hormone can be detected and measured in the blood. An abnormal level of erythropoietin in the blood can indicate bone marrow disorders, (such as polycythemia, or increased red blood cell production) kidney disease, or erythropoietin abuse. Testing erythropoietin blood levels is of value if:
- Too little erythropoietin might be responsible for too few red blood cells (anemia), especially anemia related to kidney disease.
- Too much erythropoietin might be causing too many red blood cells (polycythemia).
- Too much erythropoietin might be evidence for a kidney tumor.
- Too much erythropoietin in an athlete may suggest erythropoietin abuse.