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Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl. 2003 Apr-Jun;14(2):134-44.

Attitude of physicians towards iron supplementation in hemodialysis patients treated with erythropoietin.

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Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


This study was performed to evaluate the attitude of the physicians in Saudi Arabia towards iron supplementation in hemodialysis patients treated by recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO). A questionnaire was sent to 174 physicians in the 133 active dialysis centers in Saudi Arabia; 99 (74.5%) centers in Ministry of Health (MOH), 14 (10.5%) in governmental non-MOH institutions and 20 (15%) in the private sector, who collectively looked after more than 7300 chronic hemodialysis patients of whom 4745 (65%) were on erythropoietin therapy. A total of 149 out of 174 (85.6%) physicians answered the questionnaire. Of them, 90 (60.4%) had a protocol for intravenous (i.v.) iron administration, 117 (78.5%) utilized serum ferritin and 75 (50.3%) utilized transferrin saturation (TS) ratio for the evaluation of iron stores in their patients. There were 97 respondents (88%) who would initiate i.v. iron during the induction therapy of r-HuEPO in case of absolute iron deficiency, 44 (54.3%) in case of borderline iron deficiency, 38 (48.1%) in case of functional iron deficiency and only eight (10.6%) in case the values of the ferritin and TS were higher than normal. There were 100 respondents (76.3%) who believed that i.v. iron supplements could decrease the dose of r-HuEPO and 123 (91.1%) believed that i.v. iron could improve the hematocrit response to r-HuEPO. Furthermore, there were 95 (87.2%) respondents who would use iron saccharate as the iron preparation of choice, 70 (52.2%) believed that iron saccharate caused less hypersensitivity than iron dextran while 84 (75%) had no idea about the cost of i.v. iron preparations. There were 74 (55.6%) respondents who would administer high iron loading dose over a short period and 87 (66.9%) would follow the guidance of the lab tests during the maintenance phase of the r-HuEPO replacement therapy. Our study suggests that a protocol for i.v. iron supplementation is lacking in many centers. There is a need to increase awareness of the physicians working in those centers to the importance of i.v. iron therapy.

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