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Alternative namesFe+2; Ferric ion; Fe++; Ferrous ion; Iron - serum
DefinitionA test that measures the amount of iron in the blood.
How the test is performedBlood is drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The puncture site is cleaned with antiseptic, and an elastic band is placed around the upper arm to apply pressure and restrict blood flow through the vein. This causes veins below the band to fill with blood. A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. During the procedure, the band is removed to restore circulation. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In an infant or young child:
The area is cleansed with antiseptic and punctured with a sharp needle or a lancet. The blood may be collected in a pipette (small glass tube), on a slide, onto a test strip, or into a small container. Cotton or a bandage may be applied to the puncture site if there is any continued bleeding.
How to prepare for the test
For adults, no specific preparation is required.
For infants and children:
How the test will feelWhen the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the test is performed
This test is performed when iron deficiency is suspected.
The body efficiently conserves iron so that only about 1 mg (men and post-menopausal women) or 1.8 mg (premenopausal adult women) is lost per day in the urine or menstrual blood. Since only about 10-15% of the iron we eat in our food is absorbed, even under optimum circumstances, the recommended daily allowance for iron is 10 mg (men and post-menopausal women) and 18 mg (premenopausal adult women). Pregnancy greatly increases the need for iron, and iron deficiency is most common in women of reproductive age.
What abnormal results meanHigher-than-normal levels may indicate:
What the risks are
Special considerationsDrugs that can increase iron measurements include chloramphenicol, estrogens, oral contraceptives, and methyldopa.
Drugs that can decrease iron measurements include cholestyramine, chloramphenicol, colchicine, deferoxamine, methicillin, allopurinol, and testosterone.
Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Update Date: 6/1/2003Marcia S. Brose, M.D., Ph.D., Division of Hematology/Oncology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT