Postoperative intravenous iron used alone or in combination with low-dose erythropoietin is not effective for correction of anemia after cardiac surgery

J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2004 Feb;18(1):59-63. doi: 10.1053/j.jvca.2003.10.012.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine whether intravenous iron III-hydroxide sucrose complex (IHSC) used alone was sufficient to provide rapid correction of anemia after cardiac surgery and whether additional stimulation of erythropoiesis is possible by means of a single low dose of recombinant-human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO) administration.

Design: Prospective, randomized, double-blind study.

Setting: The study was conducted in a university hospital.

Participants: One hundred twenty American Society of Anesthesiologists II or III patients, who underwent elective cardiac surgery using cardiopulmonary bypass and in whom postpump hemoglobin ranged between 7 and 10 g/dL.

Interventions: Patients were divided into 3 groups: group I = control; group II received postoperative intravenous iron supplementation with an iron III-hydroxide sucrose complex (IHSC); and group III received IV iron and a single dose of r-HuEPO (300 U/kg).

Measurements and results: No significant difference in transfusion needs was observed among the 3 groups (22%, 25%, and 17% of patients transfused in groups I, II, and III, respectively). Hemoglobin levels, reticulocyte counts, and serum ferritin levels were evaluated at different time intervals (until day 30 postoperatively). No side effects because of iron administration were noted in the study. Reticulocyte counts increased rapidly at day 5 (2.24% +/- 1.11%, 1.99% +/- 1.44%, and 3.84% +/- 2.02% in groups I, II, and III, respectively) and decreased after day 15 in the 3 groups. Ferritin levels increased significantly at day 5 in the 2 treated groups (899.33 +/- 321.55 ng/mL in group II, 845.75 +/- 289.96 ng/mL in group III v 463.15 +/- 227.74 ng/mL in group I). In group I, ferritin levels, after a slight elevation on day 5, decreased at day 15 to lower than baseline levels. No significant difference in hemoglobin increase was noted among the 3 groups.

Conclusion: Postoperative intravenous iron supplementation alone or in combination with a single dose of r-HuEPO (300 U/kg) is not effective in correcting anemia after cardiac surgery.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / blood*
  • Anemia / drug therapy
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Blood Transfusion / statistics & numerical data
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Erythropoiesis / drug effects
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Ferritins / drug effects
  • Hemoglobins / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Iron / administration & dosage*
  • Iron / blood
  • Iron / deficiency
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Care / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Reticulocyte Count
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hemoglobins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin
  • Ferritins
  • Iron