Total Iron Level, Iron Binding Capacity, Iron Percent Saturation Tests


Iron tests are a group of blood tests that are done to evaluate the iron level in blood serum, the body's capacity to absorb iron, and the amount of iron actually stored in the body. Iron is an essential trace element; it is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and certain enzymes. At the other extreme, high levels of iron can be poisonous.

This test is part of Cardio-Med's complete physical exam.


Cardio-Med's complete physical exam includes the total iron level test, total iron binding capacity, and iron percent saturation. These tests are helpful in the following:

A serum iron test can be used without the others to evaluate cases of iron poisoning.


Patients should not have their blood tested for iron within four days of a blood transfusion or tests and treatments that use radioactive materials. Recent high stress levels or sleep deprivation are additional reasons for postponing iron tests. Blood samples for iron tests should be taken early in the morning because serum iron levels vary during the day. This precaution is especially important in evaluating the results of iron replacement therapy.


Iron tests are performed on samples of the patient's blood, withdrawn from a vein into a vacuum tube. The amount of blood taken is between 6 mL and 10 mL (1/3 of a fluid ounce). The procedure, which is called a venipuncture, takes about five minutes.

Read more about specific iron blood tests.


Patient history
Before patients are tested for iron, they should be checked for any of the following factors:
Patients scheduled for an iron level, TIBC, or transferrin test should fast for 12 hours before the blood is drawn. They are allowed to drink water. Patients scheduled for a ferritin test do not need to fast but they should not have any alcoholic beverages before the test.

Normal results

Iron level test
Normal serum iron values are as follows:
TIBC test
Normal TIBC values are as follows:
Transferrin test
Normal transferrin values are as follows:

Normal transferrin saturation values are between 30-40%.

Ferritin test
Normal ferritin values are as follows:

Abnormal results

Iron level test
Serum iron level is increased in thalassemia, hemochromatosis, severe hepatitis, liver disease, lead poisoning, acute leukemia, and kidney disease. It is also increased by multiple blood transfusions and intramuscular iron injections. Iron levels above 350-500 micrograms/dL are considered toxic; levels over 1000 micrograms/dL indicate severe iron poisoning.

Serum iron level is decreased in iron deficiency anemia, chronic blood loss, chronic diseases (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), late pregnancy, chronically heavy menstrual periods, and thyroid deficiency.

TIBC test
The TIBC is increased in iron deficiency anemia, polycythemia vera, pregnancy, blood loss, severe hepatitis, and the use of birth control pills.

The TIBC is decreased in malnutrition, severe burns, hemochromatosis, anemia caused by infections and chronic diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, and kidney disease.

Transferrin test
Transferrin is increased in iron deficiency anemia, pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and the use of birth control pills.

Transferrin is decreased in protein deficiency, liver damage, malnutrition, severe burns, kidney disease, chronic infections, and certain genetic disorders.

Ferritin test
Ferritin is increased in liver disease, iron overload from hemochromatosis, certain types of anemia, acute leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, breast cancer, thalassemia, infections, inflammatory diseases, and hemosiderosis. Ferritin levels may be normal or slightly above normal in patients with kidney disease.

Ferritin is decreased in chronic iron deficiency and severe protein depletion.

We also offer a body scan that provides ultrasound imaging of body organs and a test for stroke to check carotid artery blood flow to the brain. This suite of tests including the physical exam gives your physician a complete view of your state of health.

Call (847)758-1230 today for an appointment and consultation with our physician.
Serving Chicago, IL and all of the Chicago northwest suburbs, southeastern Wisconsin and northwestern Indiana.

Adapted from medicalDictionary

Physical Exam - Level I includes:

  • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test for prostate cancer
    More . . .
  • CA125 Test for ovarian cancer
    More . . .
Detailed blood pressure evaluation in both arms (seated) and in right arm (recumbent or lying down)      More . . .
Thyroid function profile      More . . .
Resting 12-lead Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) recording of electrical activity of the heart      More . . .
triglycerides profile      More . . .
Detailed clinical evaluation and consultation by Physician, not Nurse      More . . .
Comprehensive chemistry profile      More . . .