Ferritin, fever, and frequent visits: Hyperferritinemic syndromes in the emergency department.
Fever of unknown origin (FUO) is defined as persistent fevers without an identifiable cause despite extensive medical workup. Emergency physicians caring for patients reporting a persistent, nonspecific, febrile illness should carefully consider potentially serious non-infectious causes of FUO. We present a case of a 35-year-old man who presented to the emergency department (ED) three times over a 10-day period for persistent febrile illness and was ultimately diagnosed with Adult-Onset Still's Disease (AOSD) after a serum ferritin level was found to be over 42,000 μg/L. AOSD, along with macrophage activation syndrome, catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome, and septic shock comprise the four hyperferritinemic syndromes. These are potentially life-threatening febrile illnesses that characteristically present with elevated ferritin levels. In this article, we highlight the value of a serum ferritin level in the workup of a patient with prolonged febrile illness and its utility in facilitating early diagnosis and prompt treatment of hyperferritinemic syndromes in the ED.