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Total iron binding capacity

TIBC; Anemia -TIBC

 

Total iron binding capacity (TIBC) is a blood test to see if you have too much or too little iron in your blood. Iron moves through the blood attached to a protein called transferrin. This test helps your health care provider know how well that protein can carry iron in your blood.

How the Test is Performed

 

A blood sample is needed.

 

How to Prepare for the Test

 

You should not eat or drink for 8 hours before the test.

Certain medicines may affect the result of this test. Your provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines. DO NOT stop any medicine before talking to your provider.

Medicines that can affect the test result include:

  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
  • Birth control pills
  • Chloramphenicol
  • Fluorides

 

How the Test will Feel

 

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.

 

Why the Test is Performed

 

Your provider may recommend this test if:

  • You have signs or symptoms of anemia due to low iron.
  • Other lab tests suggest you have anemia due to low iron levels

 

Normal Results

 

Normal value range is:

  • Iron: 60 to 170 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) or 10.74 to 30.43 micronoles per liter (micromol/L)
  • TIBC: 240 to 450 mcg/dL or 42.96 to 80.55 micromol/L
  • Transferrin saturation: 20% to 50%

The numbers above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

 

What Abnormal Results Mean

 

TIBC is usually higher than normal when the body's iron supplies are low. This can occur with:

  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Pregnancy (late)

Lower-than-normal TIBC may mean:

  • Anemia due to red blood cells being destroyed too quickly (hemolytic anemia)
  • Lower-than-normal level of protein in the blood (hypoproteinemia)
  • Inflammation
  • Liver disease, such as cirrhosis
  • Malnutrition
  • Decrease in red blood cells from the intestines not properly absorbing vitamin B12 (pernicious anemia)
  • Sickle cell anemia

 

Risks

 

There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Hematoma (blood buildup under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

 

 

References

Brittenham GM. Disorders of iron homeostasis: iron deficiency and overload. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 34.

Goljan EF. Red blood cell disorders. In: Goljan EF, ed. Rapid Review Pathology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 12.

 
  • Blood test

    Blood test - illustration

    Blood is drawn from a vein (venipuncture), usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. Preparation may vary depending on the specific test.

    Blood test

    illustration

    • Blood test

      Blood test - illustration

      Blood is drawn from a vein (venipuncture), usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. Preparation may vary depending on the specific test.

      Blood test

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

    Self Care

     

      Tests for Total iron binding capacity

       

       

      Review Date: 2/11/2016

      Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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