Ferritin Test

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Also known as: Serum ferritin
Related tests: Serum iron; TIBC

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To learn about the levels of iron stored in your body

When to Get Tested?

When your doctor suspects that  you have either too little or too much iron or too much iron in your system

Sample Required?

A blood sample taken from a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed?

You may be instructed to fast for 12 hours before the test; in this case, only water is permitted.

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Within cells, iron is stored as protein complexes called ferritin and haemosiderin. Ferritin is the main storage complex and is present mostly in the liver, but also in the bone marrow, spleen, and muscles. Small amounts of ferritin also circulate in the blood. The ferritin concentration within the blood stream reflects the amount of iron stored in your body.

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is taken by needle from a vein in your arm.

NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.

Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

You may be instructed to fast for 12 hours before the test; in this case, only water is permitted.

The Test

Common Questions

Ask a Laboratory Scientist

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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.