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Alternative Names Return to topSerum ferritin level
Definition Return to top
Ferritin is a protein found inside cells that stores iron so your body can use it later. A ferritin test indirectly measures the amount of iron in your blood.
The amount of ferritin in your blood (serum ferritin level) is directly related to the amount of iron stored in your body.
How the Test is Performed Return to top
Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.
Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
Your doctor may tell you to stop taking any drugs that may affect the test results.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
This test measures the amount of iron in the body. Iron is important for red blood cell production.
Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:
Normal Results Return to top
Male: 12-300 ng/mL
Female: 12-150 ng/mL
Note: ng/ml = nanograms per milliliter
The lower the ferritin level, even within the "normal" range, the more likely it is that the patient does not have enough iron.
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
Any inflammatory disorder can raise the ferritin level.
Higher-than-normal ferritin levels may be due to:
Risks Return to top
There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:
References Return to top
McPherson RA and Pincus MR. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2007:78.
Hoffman R, Benz Jr. EJ, Shattil SJ, et al., eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingston; 2005:482.Update Date: 1/12/2009 Updated by: Todd Gersten, M.D., Hematology/Oncology, Palm Beach Cancer Institute, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.