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Iron deficiency anemia overview

Updated: August 09, 2009

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the dietary intake or absorption of iron is insufficient, and hemoglobin, which contains iron, cannot be formed.

Clinical suspicion

Microcytic hypochromic anemia.

Diagnosis

  • serum ferritin <10ng/ml in woman and <20ng/ml in men indicates decreased iron stores. However, since ferritin is an acute phase reactant it may rise in patients with iron deficiency anemia. If level is >200ng/ml this excludes the diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia.
  • Serum iron of <50ug/dl and total iron binding capacity of >420ug/dl supports the diagnosis.
  • bone marrow biopsy with absent staining for iron is the definitive diagnosis but is used only when serum ferritin fails to confirm a diagnosis.


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