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A ferritin blood test checks the amount of ferritin in the blood. Ferritin is a protein in the body that binds to iron; most of the iron stored in the body is bound to ferritin. Ferritin is found in the liver, spleen, skeletal muscles, and bone marrow. Only a small amount of ferritin is found in the blood. The amount of ferritin in the blood shows how much iron is stored in your body.
A ferritin blood test is done to:
You do not need to do anything before having this test.
The health professional drawing blood will:
The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.
There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from a vein.
A ferritin blood test checks the amount of ferritin in the blood. Ferritin is a protein in the body that binds to iron; most of the iron stored in the body is bound to ferritin. The amount of ferritin found in the blood is the same amount that is in the body.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
18–270 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) or 18–270 micrograms per liter (mcg/L)
18–160 ng/mL or 18–160 mcg/L
7–140 ng/mL or 7–140 mcg/L
50–200 ng/mL or 50–200 mcg/L
25–200 ng/mL or 25–200 mcg/L
Low ferritin levels often mean an iron deficiency is present. This can be caused by long-term (chronic) blood loss from heavy menstrual bleeding, pregnancy, not enough iron in the diet, or bleeding inside the intestinal tract (from ulcers, colon polyps, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, or other conditions). In rare cases, too much iron may be lost through the skin (because of a disease such as psoriasis) or in the urine.
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
CitationsFischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Other Works ConsultedChernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Current as of: August 6, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Joseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
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