Diagnostics used in iron health

A wide range of diagnostics are used in the context of conditions associated with iron overload

You can find out more about each approach by clicking on the table.

Routinely applicable assays

  Thal. SCD MDS
Serum ferritin  ◆  ◆   ◆
Transferrin  ◆  ◆  ◆
LPI /NTBI  ◆    ◆
Liver Iron Concentration (LIC)  ◆  ◆  ◆
Cardiac Iron and T2*  ◆    ◆
Bone Marrow Examination      ◆
Cytogenetics      ◆
Transcranial Doppler Ultrasonography    ◆  

The level of iron overload may be broken down into mild, moderate and severe categories. Its diagnosis may involve several different approaches being taken.

Threshold values for iron overload states1

Parameter Normal Iron overload
    Mild Moderate Severe
Serum ferritin (μg/L) <300  >1000 to <2500a    >2500
Transferrin saturation (%)  20-50  >50b    
Labile plasma iron (μmol/L)  0-0.4  >0.4b    
Liver iron concentration (mg Fe/g dry weight)  <1.2  3-7  >7  >15
Hepatic T2* MRI (ms)  >6.3  <6.3    <1.4
Cardiac T2* MRI (ms)  >20  14-20  8-14  <8

a Relates to mild and moderate iron overload

b Relates to mild, moderate and severe iron overload


Next: Serum Ferritin


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  1. Leitch HA. Optimizing therapy for iron overload in the myelodysplastic syndromes: recent developments. Drugs. 2011;71(2):155-177.