Gastrointestinal endoscopic evaluation of premenopausal women with iron deficiency anemia

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2004 Feb;38(2):104-9. doi: 10.1097/00004836-200402000-00004.

Abstract

Goals: To evaluate whether the gastrointestinal tract could be a source of chronic blood loss in premenopausal women with iron deficiency anemia.

Background: While premenopausal women with iron deficiency anemia are typically managed with simple iron replacement, the standard of care for postmenopausal women and men is to exclude a gastrointestinal source of bleeding.

Study: We identified 111 premenopausal women who underwent endoscopy for the sole indication of iron deficiency anemia.

Results: The mean age was 42.5 years. Lesions potentially causative of iron deficiency anemia were detected in 22 patients (20%). Upper gastrointestinal lesions were present in 14 patients (13%) and included only erosive lesions. Lower gastrointestinal lesions were detected in 8 patients (7.2%) and included colon cancer (2.7%), inflammatory bowel disease (3.6%), and a colonic ulcer >1 cm (0.9%). Patients with upper gastrointestinal lesions were more likely to use aspirin or nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (11/14, 79%) than patients with no lesions (26/89, 23%; P = 0.043). Occult blood was more common in patients with lower gastrointestinal lesions 8/8 (100%) and patients with upper gastrointestinal lesions (9/14, 64%) than in patients without lesions (28/89, 31%; P = 0.037 and 0.039). Gastrointestinal symptoms were significantly more common in patients with gastrointestinal lesions than in patients without lesions.

Conclusions: A gastrointestinal source of chronic blood loss was identified in a substantial proportion of premenopausal women with iron deficiency anemia. Patients with gastrointestinal symptoms, fecal occult blood, and/or weight loss should undergo endoscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / etiology*
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / complications*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Occult Blood
  • Premenopause
  • Statistics, Nonparametric