Ferritin Test

Ferritin is a protein, which stores iron for when the body needs it. The levels of ferritin in the blood reflect the amount of iron stored in the blood. Ferritin is stored mainly in the liver, but it is also present in the bone marrow, muscles and the spleen; a small amount of ferritin is also present in the bloodstream. Iron is also stored in haemosiderin; in healthy people, 70 percent of the body’s iron stores should be stored in ferritin and 30 percent should be stored in haemosiderin.

Why is the test used?

The test is used to see how much iron the body has stored for use in the future. Along with other tests, the ferritin test can be used to determine levels of iron in the blood.

The test is usually ordered when a patient has low levels of haemoglobin or and haemocrit and when the red blood cells are smaller than normal. The ferritin test, along with other blood tests can be used to help doctors diagnose anaemia.

The test may also be ordered when the doctor suspects a patient has excessive iron levels in their blood; an example of this kind of condition is haemochromotosis, which is caused by the body absorbing too much iron from the diet.

How is the test performed?

The test is done by taking a blood sample from a vein in the arm. A needle is inserted into the vein and drawn out and collected in a syringe. Once the sample has been collected, it will be bottled, labelled with the patient’s name and sent away to the laboratory for evaluation.

What do the test results show?

If ferritin levels are low, this indicates that the body does not sufficient amounts of iron storied for future use. If levels are consistently low, this may indicate a long-term iron deficiency.

If levels of ferritin are high, this may indicate that too much iron is being stored in the body; this may indicate the presence of a condition such as haemochromotosis.

If the organs which contain ferritin are damaged, this may cause the levels of ferritin in the blood to rise; this will not affect the total amount of iron in the body.

The test may not be useful for patients with conditions such as cancer, long-term infections or autoimmune disease, as these are associated with damage to the organs.

Specific Blood Tests

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