Management of Anemia in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Patel D1, Trivedi C2, Khan N3,4,5. Curr Treat Options Gastroenterol. 2018 Mar;16(1):112-128. doi: 10.1007/s11938-018-0174-2.

Author information

1 Section of Gastroenterology, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

2 Section of Gastroenterology, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

3 Section of Gastroenterology, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Nabeel.Khan@va.gov.

4 Section of Gastroenterology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Nabeel.Khan@va.gov.

5 , 3900 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA. Nabeel.Khan@va.gov.


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Anemia is the most common complication as well as an extra intestinal manifestation of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is associated with a significant impact on patient's quality of life (QoL); as well it represents a common cause of frequent hospitalization, delay of hospital inpatient discharge and overall increased healthcare burden. In spite of all these, anemia is still often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Our aim in this review is to provide a pathway for physicians to help them achieve early diagnosis as well as timely and appropriate treatment of anemia which in turn would hopefully reduce the prevalence and subsequent complications of this condition among IBD patients.

RECENT FINDINGS: The etiology of anemia among IBD patients is most commonly due to iron deficiency anemia (IDA) followed by anemia of chronic disease. Despite this, more than a third of anemic ulcerative colitis (UC) patients are not tested for IDA and among those tested and diagnosed with IDA, a quarter are not treated with iron replacement therapy. A new algorithm has been validated to predict who will develop moderate to severe anemia at the time of UC diagnosis. While oral iron is effective for the treatment of mild iron deficiency-related anemia, the absorption of iron is influenced by chronic inflammatory states as a consequence of the presence of elevated levels of hepcidin. Also, it is important to recognize that ferritin is elevated in chronic inflammatory states and among patients with active IBD, ferritin levels less than 100 are considered to be diagnostic of iron deficiency. Newer formulations of intra-venous (IV) iron have a good safety profile and can be used for replenishment of ironstores and prevention of iron deficiency in the future. Routine screening for anemia is important among patients with IBD. The cornerstone for the accurate management of anemia in IBD patients lies in accurately diagnosing the type of anemia. All IBDpatients with IDA should be considered appropriate for therapy with iron supplementation whereas IV administration of iron is recommended in patients with clinically active IBD, or for patients who are previously intolerant to oral iron, with hemoglobin levels below 10 g/dL, and in patients who need erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs). As the recurrence of anemia is common after resolution, the monitoring for recurrent anemia is equally important during the course of therapy.

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