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Alternative Names Return to topTIBC
Definition Return to top
Total iron binding capacity (TIBC) is a blood test that shows if there is too much or too little iron in the blood. Iron is carried in the blood attached to the protein transferrin. This test helps measure the ability of a protein called transferrin to carry iron in the blood.
How the Test is Performed Return to top
Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.
Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
You should not eat or drink for 8 hours before the test.
Make sure your doctor knows about all the medications you are taking. Some medicines can interfere with test results.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
This test is usually done when the health care provider suspects low iron (deficiency) as a cause of anemia.
Normal Results Return to top
Note: mcg/dl = micrograms per deciliter
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
TIBC is usually higher-than-normal when the body's iron stores are low. Higher-than-normal TIBC may mean:
Lower-than-normal TIBC may mean:
Risks Return to top
There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient 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:
References Return to top
Ginder G. Microcytic and hypochromic anemias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 163.Update Date: 2/13/2009 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.