ferritin - All health - Medical Reference Library and Symptom Finder
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Ferritin is the iron storage protein found in the blood. This test measures the amount of available ferritin in the blood serum. Iron is important for red blood cell production.

Who is a candidate for the test? 
The ferritin test is done to determine how much iron is stored in a person's body. The test is ordered if the doctor suspects that the person has either an abnormally high or abnormally low level of iron in the body.

How is the test performed? 
In order to measure the amount of ferritin in the serum, a blood sample is taken from a vein on the forearm or hand. First, the skin over the vein is cleaned with an antiseptic. Next, a strong rubber tube, or "tourniquet", is wrapped around the upper arm. This restricts the blood flow through the veins in the lower arm causing them to enlarge. A small needle is gently inserted into a vein. The tourniquet is removed. Blood flows from the vein through the needle. It is collected in a syringe or vial and sent to the laboratory for testing. After the needle is withdrawn, the puncture site is covered for a short time to prevent bleeding.

What is involved in preparation for the test? 
There is no special preparation for this test.

What do the test results mean? 
Abnormally high amounts of ferritin may indicate:
  • alcoholic liver disease
  • haemochromatosis, a genetic disease marked by excessive absorption and accumulation of iron in the body
  • haemosiderosis, a condition in which iron accumulates in the lungs and liver
  • haemolytic anaemia, which is caused by destruction of red blood cells
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the blood
  • megaloblastic anaemia, in which the bone marrow produces large, abnormal red blood cells
  • inflammatory disease
  • advanced cancer
  • leukaemia, cancer of the blood
  • cirrhosis, which is destruction of the normal liver tissue
  • chronic hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that lasts at least 6 months
Abnormally low amounts of ferritin may indicate: Author: David T. Moran, MD
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 6/06/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

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