Common misconceptions in the diagnosis and management of anemia in inflammatory bowel disease

Editorial: Am J Gastroenterol
Fecha: 01/05/2008
Gisbert JP, Gomollón F.

Anemia is the most common systemic complication of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); so common that it is almost invariably not investigated and rarely treated. Several misconceptions are the reason for these clinical errors, and our goal will be to review them. The most common misconceptions are: anemia is uncommon in IBD; iron deficiency is also uncommon; just by treating the intestinal disease, anemia will be corrected; iron deficiency is the only cause for anemia in IBD; ferritin is an accurate parameter for the diagnosis of iron deficiency in IBD; the impact of anemia on the quality of life of IBD patients is limited; iron supplementation is rarely needed in IBD; high-dose oral iron solves the problem of iron malabsorption in IBD; intravenous (IV) iron is dangerous and of no proven benefit in IBD; IV iron is useful only for severe anemia; and erythropoietin has no role in the treatment of IBD anemia. These misconceptions are not evidence-based. On the contrary, there is enough evidence to support the following statements: (a) anemia is very common in IBD, (b) anemia should be investigated with care because many factors can be responsible, (c) treatment of anemia results in clear improvement in the objective parameters of well-being, especially in the quality of life, (d) IV iron is safe and effective in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia in IBD patients, and (e) erythropoietin is useful in a subset of patients with refractory anemia. Anemia diagnosis and treatment must not be neglected in IBD patients, and several misconceptions should be promptly abandoned.

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