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Home :: Ferritin


Also known as: Serum ferritin level

Ferritin, a major iron-storage protein, normally appears in small quantities in serum. In healthy adults, serum ferritin levels are directly related to the amount of available iron stored in the body and can be measured accurately by radio­immunoassay.


  • To screen for iron deficiency and iron overload
  • To measure iron storage
  • To distinguish between iron deficiency (a condition of low iron storage) and chronic inflammation (a condition of normal storage)

Patient preparation

  • Explain to the patient that this test is used to assess the available iron stored in the body.
  • Tell him that a blood sample will be taken. Explain who will perform the venipuncture and when.
  • Reassure him that drawing a blood sample will take less than 3 minutes.
  • Explain that he may feel slight discomfort from the tourniquet pressure and the needle puncture.
  • Review the patient's history for transfusion within the past 4 months.
  • Inform the patient that food or fluids need not be restricted before the test.

Procedure and posttest care

  • Perform a venipuncture, collecting the sample in a 10-ml red-top tube.
  • If a hematoma develops at the venipuncture site, apply warm soaks.
Reference values

Normal serum ferritin values vary with age, as follows:

  • neonates: 25 to 200 ug/ml
  • infants up to age 1 month: 200 to 600 ug/ml
  • infants ages 2 to 5 months: 50 to 200 ug/ml
  • children ages 6 months to 15 years: 7 to 142 ug/ml
  • adult males: 20 to 300 ug/ml
  • adult females: 20 to 120 ug/ml

Abnormal findings

High serum ferritin levels may indicate acute or chronic hepatic disease, iron overload, leukemia, acute or chronic infection or inflammation, Hodgkin's disease, or chronic hemolytic anemias. In these disorders, iron stores in the bone marrow may be normal or significantly increased. Serum ferritin levels are characteristically normal or slightly elevated in patients with chronic renal disease.

Low serum ferritin levels indicate chronic iron deficiency.

Interfering factor

  • Recent blood transfusion (possible false-high).

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