Pathology Handbook


Clinical Indications

Iron is normally stored in the body as ferritin, a small fraction of which circulates in blood. The concentration of serum ferritin is directly related to tissue stores and levels vary depending on age and sex. Ferritin is generally more accurate than iron and TIBC (transferrin) for the assessment of iron status. Unfortunately, serum ferritin is raised in acute and chronic disorders such as liver disease, inflammation or malignancy which limits its use as a diagnostic test for iron deficiency. Serum ferritin is increased in patients with haemochromatosis.

Request Form

Request on ICE


On request. Requests should not be repeated within one month.

Specific Criteria

Assessment of iron status in suspected iron deficiency anaemia.

Turnaround Time

Same day (Monday to Friday)




1 ml


Vacutainer gold top


No specific collection conditions.

Causes for Rejection

Unlabelled or incorrectly labelled sample

Reference Range

Adult: 15-300 ng/mL

Following the menopause, levels in women progressively approach those for adult males.


Decreased levels indicate iron deficiency. Levels of up to 100 µg/L may be found in patients with iron deficiency when this co-exists with inflammation, liver disease or malignancy (acute phase response) as these disorders increase ferritin above basal levels. 

Increased levels occur with iron overload (haemochromatosis and haemosiderosis) but transferrin saturation is a better screening test for these disorders.