Peer Reviewed
Gastroenterology clinic

Interpretation of iron studies: a practical approach

Magnus Halland, Jillian De Malmanche
When interpreted with care, iron studies can be very useful biochemical tests. The clinical scenario of the individual patient must always be taken into account.
Key Points
    • A low serum ferritin level is the single most reliable indication of true iron deficiency.
    • Unexplained iron deficiency is concerning for underlying gastrointestinal pathology such as coeliac disease or malignancy.
    • A normal or high serum ferritin level is often the result of inflammation, infection, liver disease or cancer and can therefore mask the presence of iron deficiency. C-reactive protein (CRP) level, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and liver function tests may provide useful additional information.
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