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Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010 Nov;7(11):599-610. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2010.151. Epub 2010 Oct 5.

Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anemia in patients with IBD.

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Gastroenterology and Clinical Nutrition, St Elisabeth Hospital, Katharina Kasper Clinics, Teaching Hospital of the Goethe University Frankfurt, Ginnheimer Street 3, D-60487 Frankfurt, Germany.


Anemia is the most prevalent extraintestinal complication of IBD. It can affect quality of life and ability to work, and can also increase the hospitalization rate in patients with IBD. Although the causes of anemia in IBD are multifactorial, iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is the most common. Assessment of the iron status of patients who have a condition associated with inflammation, such as IBD, by using common biochemical values is insufficient. However, new indices of iron metabolism (for instance ferritin:transferrin receptor ratio, reticulocyte hemoglobin content or percentage of hypochromic red blood cells) may help to improve the assessment of iron status in patients with IBD. The treatment of IDA traditionally involves oral iron supplementation. However, because of extensive gastrointestinal adverse effects, and data showing that the use of oral iron in IBD may be associated with disease exacerbation, current guidelines suggest that iron supplementation in IBD should be administered intravenously. This Review provides an overview of iron homeostasis in health before discussing diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for IDA in patients with IBD.

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