Endoscopic evaluation of significant gastrointestinal lesions in patients with iron deficiency with and without anaemia: a Korean Association for the Study of Intestinal Disease study.Intern Med J. 2009 Jul; 39(7):441-6.IM
Although endoscopy is recommended for patients with iron deficiency anaemia, there is, currently, no consensus on the role of endoscopy for iron-deficient patients without anaemia. The goal of this study was to determine the prevalence of serious gastrointestinal (GI) lesions, identified by endoscopy in patients with iron deficiency and anaemia compared with patients with iron deficiency without anaemia.
One thousand five hundred and eighteen patients with a ferritin value of <or=50 ng/mL and a total iron-binding capacity >or=300 mg/dL were retrospectively investigated using oesophagogastroduodenoscopy and colonoscopy between January 2005 and September 2006. The lesions identified were classified as clinically important according to standard predetermined criteria.
Among the 1518 cases, 749 patients had anaemia and 769 had normal haemoglobin levels. Clinically important lesions were identified in 24.6% of the patients with anaemia and in 22.8% of the patients without anaemia (P > 0.05). The frequency of lower GI tract lesions (13.6 vs 11.4%, P > 0.05) and upper GI tract lesions (11.9 vs 12.5%, P > 0.05) was similar in the comparisons between the two groups. However, the frequency of malignant GI lesions was higher in the patients with anaemia (5.1 vs 0.7%, P < 0.01). In addition, the patients without anaemia were significantly more likely to have early-stage neoplasia (adenoma, early gastric cancer and Dukes' A and B colon cancer) than were the patients with anaemia (98.4 vs 52.5%, P < 0.01).
The results of this study suggest that patients with iron deficiency should undergo endoscopic evaluation of the GI tract, irrespective of whether they have anaemia. The endoscopic evaluation of the GI tract in patients with iron deficiency without anaemia could provide an opportunity for the detection of early-stage neoplasia at a curable stage.