The red cell mass is the preferred diagnostic method for polycythemia vera. The red cell mass is measured with radioactive chromium (51Cr)-labeled erythrocytes. An erythrocyte mass greater than 36 mL/kg in men (normal, 28.3 ± 2.8 mL/kg) and greater than 32 mL/kg in women (normal, 25.4 ± 2.6 mL/kg) is considered diagnostic.
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