Effect of intravenous iron use on hospitalizations in patients undergoing hemodialysis: a comparative effectiveness analysis from the DEcIDE-ESRD study

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2015 Apr;30(4):667-75. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfu349. Epub 2014 Nov 2.


Background: Intravenous iron use in hemodialysis patients has greatly increased over the last decade, despite limited studies on the safety of iron.

Methods: We studied the association of receipt of intravenous iron with hospitalizations in an incident cohort of hemodialysis patients. We examined 9544 patients from Dialysis Clinic, Inc. (DCI). We ascertained intravenous iron use from DCI electronic medical record and USRDS data files, and hospitalizations through Medicare claims. We examined the association between iron exposure accumulated over 1-, 3- or 6-month time windows and incident hospitalizations in the follow-up period using marginal structural models accounting for time-dependent confounders. We performed sensitivity analyses including recurrent events models for multiple hospitalizations and models for combined outcome of hospitalization and death.

Results: There were 22 347 hospitalizations during a median follow-up of 23 months. Higher cumulative dose of intravenous iron was not associated with all-cause, cardiovascular or infectious hospitalizations [HR 0.97 (95% CI: 0.77-1.22) for all-cause hospitalizations comparing >2100 mg versus 0-900 mg of iron over 6 months]. Findings were similar in models examining the risk of hospitalizations in 1- and 3-month windows [HR 0.88 (95% CI: 0.79-0.99) and HR 0.88 (95% CI: 0.74-1.03), respectively] or the risk of combined outcome of hospitalization and death in the 6-month window [HR 0.98 (95% CI: 0.78-1.23)].

Conclusions: Higher cumulative dose of intravenous iron may not be associated with increased risk of hospitalizations in hemodialysis patients. While clinical trials are needed, employing higher iron doses to reduce erythropoiesis-stimulating agents does not appear to increase morbidity in routine clinical care.

Keywords: anemia; hemodialysis; hospitalizations; intravenous iron.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cause of Death
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Iron Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Risk Factors


  • Iron Compounds