The researchers found that having an iron infusion didn’t reduce the number of people who needed a blood transfusion. But it worked better than tablets to treat anaemia.
This trial was open for people to join between 2012 and 2014. The results were published in 2017.
About this trial
- women whose red blood cell level (haemoglobin) was less than 11
- men whose red blood cell level was less than 12
They were put into 1 of 2 groups at random
At least 14 days before surgery:
- 61 people had tablets
- 55 people had iron as a drip (an infusion)
45 out of the 55 people who had an infusion needed a second one.
The researchers looked at:
- how many people had blood transfusions
- the amount (volume) of blood they had
On average, the levels of red blood cells were about the same between the groups before treatment started.
But the researchers found that people who had the infusions had a higher level of red blood cells after treatment. This meant that they were less anaemic at the time of surgery.
2 people had a blood transfusion before surgery. Both were in the group who had tablets. 6 people in each group had a transfusion on the day of surgery.
- 55 out of 61 people who had tablets were anaemic
- 41 out of 55 people who had the injections were anaemic
After surgery, 30 people who had tablets needed more iron tablets. This was compared to only 4 people in the infusion group.
Side effects of iron are usually mild. 3 people who had an infusion had a headache afterwards. 1 person had a severe skin rash, but this was easy to treat.
The trial team concluded that the infusion worked better than iron tablets to treat anaemia. But it didn’t reduce the amount of blood transfusions. Although they do say that maybe having the infusion earlier would work better.
Iron infusions are more expensive than tablets. And taking tablets is a much simpler option. So, the researchers think they need to do more research into iron infusions before they recommend this as a standard treatment
Where do these results come from
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed
) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.