Chemical pathology


For investigation of possible iron deficiency anaemia please request FERRITIN (assayed by the Haematology Department). Iron is not routinely available in this situation.

  • Iron and transferrin are assayed in order to calculate transferrin saturation, a parameter used in the diagnosis and monitoring of haemochromatosis.
  • Transferrin saturation is also available for end stage renal failure patients on haemodialysis who may be candidates for erythropoietin therapy since this index gives a better measure of iron status than ferritin in this situation.
  • Iron levels are available in cases of paediatric iron overdose and can be requested urgently if necessary.

Sample requirements

For adults, blood taken into a 5mL gold top tube (or rust top for the Acute Unit)

Gold top with cap

For children, blood taken into a 3.5mL rust top tube

3.5ml rust top tube

For neonates, blood taken into a 0.8mL minicollect lithium heparin tube

0.8ml minicollect tube


Do not store. Send at ambient temperature to the laboratory.

Required information

Relevant clinical details including reason for the request. especially give details if known family history of haemochromatosis.

Turnaround times

The assays are run throughout the day and night with results available normally within 24 hours. Iron can be ordered urgently in cases of suspected paediatric iron overdose.

Reference ranges

Serum/plasma iron

11 - 38 µmol/L

Serum transferrin

Male 1.8 - 3.3 g/L Female 1.9 - 3.8 g/L

Transferrin saturation

Referrals for HFE Genetic Haemochromatosis testing require clear demonstration of the following criteria:-

  • Confirmatory diagnostic testing: all adult patients of north European ancestry with unexplained raised serum ferritin and random transferrin saturation (>50% males or >40% females) and normal FBC
  • Carrier/predictive testing: carrier/predictive testing can be offered for at risk adult relatives of individuals with known HFE mutations

Further information

For further information on iron tests, visit Lab Tests Online

Page last updated: 30/11/2018

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