Background: Intravenous (i.v.) iron is employed to treat absolute and relative iron deficiency in end-stage renal disease patients. However, there exists the possibility that i.v. iron increases infection risk. This pilot study examines whether i.v. iron gluconate acutely increases tunnelled haemodialysis catheter colonization, microbial growth, or blood-borne infection.
Methods: Nineteen patients with haemodialysis catheters who met criteria to receive an i.v. iron load entered the study. Six matched patients with catheters who did not receive iron were controls. Blood aspirated from the catheter prior to initiation of haemodialysis was sent for qualitative/quantitative cultures. The study consisted of three baseline cultures, five cultures during iron (125 mg of ferric gluconate per treatment), and three cultures following iron administration. Patients were monitored for infection for 30 days following iron.
Results: Fifteen iron-treated patients and six controls completed the study. Thirty-three per cent of treated patients were colonized at baseline; 66% were colonized following iron. Thirty-three per cent of controls (2/6) were colonized at baseline; no new colonization developed during follow up. Neither treated patients nor controls had significant microbial growth within catheters; one patient in the iron-treated group developed candidaemia.
Conclusion: Intravenous iron is not associated with acute microbial growth in catheters or clinical infection. However, a trend towards increased catheter colonization following iron administration exists.