Questions and answers on iron deficiency treatment selection and the use of intravenous iron in routine clinical practice

Ann Med. 2021 Dec;53(1):274-285. doi: 10.1080/07853890.2020.1867323.

Toby Richards 1Christian Breymann 2Matthew J Brookes 3 4Stefan Lindgren 5Iain C Macdougall 6Lawrence P McMahon 7Malcolm G Munro 8 9Elizabeta Nemeth 10Giuseppe M C Rosano 11Ingolf Schiefke 12Günter Weiss 13 14


Author information

1Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.

2Obstetric Research-Feto Maternal Haematology Unit, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

3Gastroenterology Unit, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Wolverhampton, UK.

4Research Institute in Healthcare Science (RIHS), University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK.

5Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden.

6Department of Renal Medicine, King's College Hospital, London, UK.

7Departments of Renal Medicine and Obstetric Medicine, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

8Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

9Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kaiser-Permanente, Los Angeles Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

10Center for Iron Disorders, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

11Department of Medical Sciences, IRCCS San Raffaele, Roma, Italy.

12Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Diabetology and Endocrinology, Klinikum St. Georg, Leipzig, Germany.

13Department of Internal Medicine II, Medical University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

14Christian Doppler Laboratory for Iron Metabolism and Anemia Research, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.


Iron deficiency is a common cause of morbidity and can arise as a consequence or complication from many diseases. The use of intravenous iron has increased significantly in the last decade, but concerns remain about indications and administration. Modern intravenous iron preparations can facilitate rapid iron repletion in one or two doses, both for absolute iron deficiency and, in the presence of inflammation, functional iron deficiency, where oral iron therapy is ineffective or has not worked. A multidisciplinary team of experts experienced in iron deficiency undertook a consensus review to support healthcare professionals with practical advice on managing iron deficiency in gastrointestinal, renal and cardiac disease, as well as; pregnancy, heavy menstrual bleeding, and surgery. We explain how intravenous iron may work where oral iron has not. We provide context on how and when intravenous iron should be administered, and informed opinion on potential benefits balanced with potential side-effects. We propose how intravenous iron side-effects can be anticipated in terms of what they may be and when they may occur. The aim of this consensus is to provide a practical basis for educating and preparing staff and patients on when and how iron infusions can be administered safely and efficiently. Key messages Iron deficiency treatment selection is driven by several factors, including the presence of inflammation, the time available for iron replenishment, and the anticipated risk of side-effects or intolerance. Intravenous iron preparations are indicated for the treatment of iron deficiency when oral preparations are ineffective or cannot be used, and therefore have applicability in a wide range of clinical contexts, including chronic inflammatory conditions, perioperative settings, and disorders associated with chronic blood loss. Adverse events occurring with intravenous iron can be anticipated according to when they typically occur, which provides a basis for educating and preparing staff and patients on how iron infusions can be administered safely and efficiently.

© Copyright 2013-2024 GI Health Foundation. All rights reserved.
This site is maintained as an educational resource for US healthcare providers only. Use of this website is governed by the GIHF terms of use and privacy statement.