IRON PANEL TESTS
The following make up the Iron Panel Test. These tests look at serum ferritin, total-iron-binding-capacity, transferrin, hemoglobin, and serum iron. These tests need to be taken as a panel, not independently, to receive a comprehensive and accurate assessment of a potential hemochromatosis diagnosis.
SERUM IRON (SI)
This test is best conducted after fasting for at least three hours. Also, iron or vitamin C supplements should be discontinued at least three days before taking the test. Do not discontinue other medication unless your doctor tells you to.
SERUM FERRITIN (SF)
This test measures the amount of iron contained or stored in the body. Serum ferritin reference ranges are different for adults and children. For adults, the ideal range is 50-150 ng/ml.
TOTAL IRON BINDING CAPACITY (TIBC)
This test tells how well your body can bind to iron. Serum iron divided by TIBC x 100% gives you important information about the transferrin-iron saturation percentage (TS%). TS% is usually 25-35%; in some people with iron overload, the TS% is very high. There are other types of iron overload where the TS% is normal.
Hemoglobin value determines the absence or presence of anemia. It does not quantify iron but hemoglobin levels are vital to determining the therapy for iron reduction (or replenishment.) In the case of iron reduction Hgb needs to be sufficient for blood removal otherwise, iron chelation might be considered.
Transferrin is sometimes included in an iron panel: transferrin is a protein that transports iron from the intestine into the blood.
In the past, liver biopsy was widely used to diagnose hemochromatosis. Today, liver biopsy is not necessary to diagnose the inherited form; DNA tests are available to determine if a person has genetic hemochromatosis. Liver biopsy remains the gold standard for assessing liver health. Other less invasive diagnostic aids are available; these should be discussed with a medical specialist such as a gastroenterologist.
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