Reasons, Procedure To Conduct & Use of Erythropoietin Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Erythropoietin Test

Erythropoietin Test is done to measure the level of the erythropoietin ((EPO) hormone in the blood. This hormone is known to act on the stem cells present in the bone marrow to increase the creation of red blood cells. The erythropoietin hormone is produced by the cells in the kidney and is released when the level of oxygen is low.

Reasons for Conducting a Erythropoietin Test

Erythropoietin (EPO) test is not a routine test and is undertaken to differentiate or determine the different types of anemia. The test is also done to check if the erythropoietin level is adequate for the kind of anemia. The test is ordered when the findings of a complete blood count test is abnormal. These tests check the severity of anemia. The test also checks if low erythropoietin levels are increasing the anemia further. If someone has chronic kidney disease, then this test is done at regular intervals to check if the kidney is able to produce enough of this hormone. However, the Erythropoietin (EPO) test is not done to monitor anemia. Sometimes this tests is done to check for the problem that is stimulating extra production of RBC. Serum Erythropoietin is another name for this test.

This test is done when the kind of anemia a person has, is not caused by the deficiency of iron, folate or vitamin B12, or by blood loss or hemolysis. This is done when the hematocrit, hemoglobin or RBC count is decreased and the reticulocyte count is normal or less. This test is also done when the doctor is trying to differentiate between insufficiency of erythropoietin and suppression of bone marrow function. If a patient has severe kidney disease and physicians suspect kidney dysfunction, then tests are done to check if this is causing a problem with the production of the hormone. Erythropoietin (EPO) test is done if the patient has too many RBCs.


A blood test is done for this procedure. Blood is drawn from the vein, from the back of the hand or inside of the elbow. The area is cleaned with an antiseptic lotion and an elastic band is wrapped around the upper arm, so that the pressure will make the vein swell up. The needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is collected into an airtight vial.

You might feel some pain when the needle is inserted into your skin, and there might be some throbbing after the needle is taken out. However, there’s nothing to worry about