The Important Role for Intravenous Iron in Perioperative Patient Blood Management in Major Abdominal Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Ann Surg. 2016 Jul;264(1):41-6. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000001646.


Objective: To determine if preoperative intravenous (IV) iron improves outcomes in abdominal surgery patients.

Summary background data: Preoperative iron deficiency anemia (IDA) occurs frequently; however if left untreated, increases the risk of blood transfusion allogeneic blood transfusion (ABT). Limited evidence supports IDA treatment with preoperative IV iron. This randomized controlled trial aimed to determine whether perioperative IV iron reduced the need for ABT.

Methods: Between August 2011 and November 2014, 72 patients with IDA were assigned to receive either IV iron or usual care. The primary endpoint was incidence of ABT. Secondary endpoints were various hemoglobin (Hb) levels, change in Hb between time points, length of stay, iron status, morbidity, mortality, and quality of life 4 weeks postsurgery.

Results: A 60% reduction in ABT was observed in the IV iron group compared with the usual care group (31.25% vs 12.5%). Hb values, although similar at randomization, improved by 0.8 g/dL with IV iron compared with 0.1 g/dL with usual care (P = 0.01) by the day of admission. The IV iron group had higher Hb 4 weeks after discharge compared with the usual care group (1.9 vs 0.9 g/dL, P = 0.01), and a shorter length of stay (7.0 vs 9.7 d, P = 0.026). There was no difference in discharge Hb levels, morbidity, mortality, or quality of life.

Conclusions: Administration of perioperative IV iron reduces the need for blood transfusion, and is associated with a shorter hospital stay, enhanced restoration of iron stores, and a higher mean Hb concentration 4 weeks after surgery.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Cavity / surgery
  • Aged
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / therapy
  • Blood Loss, Surgical / prevention & control*
  • Blood Transfusion / methods
  • Body Mass Index
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures
  • Female
  • Ferric Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Length of Stay*
  • Male
  • Maltose / administration & dosage
  • Maltose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Middle Aged
  • Perioperative Care*
  • Postoperative Care*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Ferric Compounds
  • ferric carboxymaltose
  • Maltose