Which conditions should be included in the differential diagnoses of polycythemia vera (PV)?

Updated: Sep 20, 2021
  • Author: Srikanth Nagalla, MD, MS, FACP; Chief Editor: Sara J Grethlein, MD, FACP  more...
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Polycythemia is characterized by increased cell counts in all cell lines in the myeloid series (ie, red blood cells, white blood cells [preferentially granulocytes], and platelets). Thus, conditions that involve individual cell lines, such as the following, must be excluded:

  • Erythrocytosis - Causes include secondary polycythemia (an increase in red blood cell [RBC] counts, typically due to chronic hypoxemia), familial erythrocythemia, and relative polycythemia (a benign condition in which RBC numbers are normal but plasma volume is contracted, due to dehydration or to reduced venous compliance).

  • Granulocytosis from infections or mobilization by secondary causes, as in leukemoid reactions

  • Thrombocytosis from bleeding and iron deficiency

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