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Detail Description


What are the other names for the test?

TIBC, Total iron-binding capacity, Transferrin saturation, Serum Iron-Binding Capacity, Siderophilin, UIBC, IBC

What is a transferrin test?

A transferrin test determines the amount of transferrin in your blood. Transferrin is an essential protein in the blood that helps to bind iron and transfer it throughout your body. Iron is a significant mineral that helps your red blood cells to carry oxygen to your cells in the body.
Your liver develops transferrin. When you have a low iron level, your liver creates additional transferrin to deposit recommended iron into your blood.

In general, your body keeps track of the iron level and prevents it from going too high or too low. Your healthcare provider using this test can get more detailed information about medical issues, such as anemia that may affect the level of iron in your body.

What is the purpose of the test?

A transferrin test may be used besides other iron tests to evaluate the quantity of iron flowing in your blood, the total capacity of the blood to transfer iron, and the iron levels in your body. In most cases, the iron tests may order simultaneously. The results of each test may help to find the deficiency of iron, anemia, or large amounts of iron in the body.

When do I need to take this test?

Your healthcare provider may recommend this test if you experience specific forms of anemia. It is a disease in which you have low red blood cells. Iron deficiency is one type of anemia that indicates you don’t possess recommended iron to develop hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the element that provides support to the red blood cells to carry oxygen. If you see the following signs and symptoms of anemia, you may need to take this test.

Symptoms of anemia
  • Severe weakness
  • Headaches
  • Pale skin
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue/tiredness
  • Breath problems
  • Increased heartbeat during physical activity
  • Irritability

In general, anemia occurs due to blood loss or when you cannot absorb iron from food. Pregnant women have more chances of anemia.
You may need to conduct this test when your provider suspects a high iron level in your blood. Symptoms of excess iron deposition depend from person to person and become complicated with time. These can include
  • Pain in the joint
  • Losing weight
  • Abdominal pain
  • Low energy
  • Decreased sex drive
  • A damaged organ like the heart or/and liver
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

Your provider also suggests the test to detect iron poisoning, which is most common in children. They may get vitamins or supplements that possess iron in large amounts.

What is the procedure of the transferrin test?

You need to provide a blood sample to your provider for a transferrin test. A small needle inserts in a vein in your arm to collect a blood sample in a test tube. A bandage applies to your vein. The test does not take time greater than 5 minutes.

How do I need to prepare for the test?

You may need to stop taking certain medicines that can affect your test results. Your provider will inform you about any specific instructions for a transferrin test until you do not need to prepare for the test. If you may need to order additional blood tests, you have to keep fast for at least 12 hours before the test.
Is there any risk in this test?

A transferrin test is a blood test that does not have a high risk. You may experience a little pain at the point in your vein from where the blood collects. A chance of bleeding or bruising may also occur, but generally, these signs do not last long.

What do transferrin test results indicate?

The test results depend on the person’s age, gender, medical history, and other factors. Each lab may use different measurement methods. You can make an online appointment here with a doctor to understand your test results. Many medical conditions can lead to high or low levels of transferrin. Your provider may use a transferrin test and additional iron tests to find the reason for your symptoms.

What is the recommended range for this test?

The test results expressed in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The ideal range for transferrin is 215 to 380 mg/dL. Your provider may also measure the transferrin levels by total iron-binding capacity (TIBC). Its results report in the unit of micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL). The recommended values are 250 to 450 mcg/dL.

Transferrin saturation is another method to observe which positions on your transferrin that may bind iron are working. Its ideal values are 15% to 50%. The test value lies below 10%, indicating iron deficiency and anemia.

What else do I need to know about this test?

Your provider may recommend these tests as well, such as
  • TIBC - This test determines the total amount of iron that may combine with transferrin protein in your blood. This test is the indirect measurement of transferrin available to link with iron.
  • Serum-iron- This test calculates the total quantity of iron in the liquid portion of your blood that is bound to transferrin.
  • UIBC - This test depicts the reserve capacity of transferrin, which does not combine with iron.
  • Transferrin saturation - It shows the percentage of transferrin-iron binding capacities. This test represents the percentage by dividing the amount of iron by the TIBC.
  • Ferritin - This test determines the amount of transferrin developed by all cells when the level of iron increases in your body. It shows the total amount of iron in the body.

What factors may affect the test results?

You can avoid the usage of aspirin, antibiotics, and birth control pills. These may alter your test results.

Visit Umbrella Health Care Systems to place an online order for this test if you don’t have a prescription. For information about more laboratory tests, medical imaging, and e-consultation service, you can register here.

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