Diagnostic value of ferritin in malignant pleural and peritoneal effusions

Amos Yinnon, Abraham M. Konijn, Gabriela Link, Jan Moreb, Chaim Hershko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The diagnostic usefulness of ferritin measurements in pleural and peritoneal effusions has been evaluated in 57 patients. Mean (± standard error [SE]) ferritin levels were 291 × 50 ng/ml in 24 patients with noninflammatory transudates (Group I), 942 × 253 in 15 patients with nonmalignant exudates (Group II), and 1805 × 257 in 18 patients with malignant exudates (Group III). The mean (± SE) ratio of effusion/serum ferritin in Groups I, II, and III was 0.7 × 0.1, 2.7 × 0.7, and 5.7 × 1.2, respectively. The specificity and predictive value of a ferritin ratio in excess of 1.5 in distinguishing transudates from all exudates and in distinguishing transudates from malignant exudates were both very high (94% to 96%). In the lower range of values considerable overlap existed between ferritin ratios obtained in patients with benign versus malignant inflammatory exudates. However, very high ferritin levels (>3000 ng/ml) and ferritin ratios (>20:1) were only encountered in malignant exudates. These results indicate that the measurement of ferritin levels and ferritin ratios may be a useful aid in the diagnosis of malignant pleural and peritoneal effusions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2564-2568
Number of pages5
Issue number12
StatePublished - 15 Dec 1988


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