Polycythemia vera

Alternative Names

Primary polycythemia; Polycythemia rubra vera; Myeloproliferative disorder; Erythremia; Splenomegalic polycythemia; Vaquez’s disease; Osler’s disease; Polycythemia with chronic cyanosis – Myelopathic polycythemia; Erythrocytosis megalosplenica; Cryptogenic polycythemia

Definition of Polycythemia vera

Polycythemia vera is an abnormal increase in the number of blood cells (primarily red blood cells) produced by the bone marrow.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Polycythemia vera is a disorder of the bone marrow. It causes too much production of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.

Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. Tests that may be done include:

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to reduce the thickness of the blood and prevent bleeding and clotting.

Expectations (prognosis)

The disease usually develops slowly. Most patients do not experience any problems related to the disease after being diagnosed.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 3/2/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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