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Iron Treatment for Anemia May Not Help After Hip Surgery

Last Updated: February 24, 2010.

Iron supplementation for anemia after hip fracture surgery does not significantly improve hemoglobin levels, bringing into question the current practice of iron supplementation after orthopedic surgery, according to a study in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Iron supplementation for anemia after hip fracture surgery does not significantly improve hemoglobin levels, bringing into question the current practice of iron supplementation after orthopedic surgery, according to a study in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Martyn J. Parker, M.D., of the Peterborough District Hospital in the United Kingdom, randomly assigned 300 patients with anemia (hemoglobin levels less than 110 g/L) after surgery for a hip fracture to either treatment with ferrous sulfate for 28 days or no iron treatment.

Six weeks after discharge from the hospital, the researchers found that the mean rise in hemoglobin levels was higher in patients treated with iron (21 g/L versus 18 g/L). The two groups had a similar length of hospital stay and mortality rate at one year. However, 17 percent of patients taking iron reported adverse effects.

"The present study demonstrated that iron therapy had no clinically relevant benefit when used to treat anemia associated with a hip fracture," Parker concludes. "In conjunction with previous studies on this topic, we conclude that the practice of using oral iron supplementation to treat anemia after orthopedic surgery in patients who are not anemic before surgery is of doubtful value."

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