Overview - What is an iron infusion?
An iron infusion is a minor procedure when an iron containing medicine is infused directly into the blood circulation via an intra-venous cannula. The iron containing preparation circulates and is delivered to the body organs that require iron for normal functioning.
Ferric carboxymaltose (FCM) also known as Ferinject® is an intravenous (IV) iron preparation, a medicine that is used in the treatment of iron deficiency conditions such as iron-deficiency anaemia .
Iron is an essential element required for the production of haemoglobin in red blood cells and of myoglobin in muscle tissue. Iron also plays an important role in many other vital processes in the human body.
Iron deficiency is a common cause of anaemia. In Australia current clinical management recommends use of oral iron (in appropriate doses and for sufficient duration) as first-line therapy for most patients presenting with of iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA).
An iron infusion is sometimes recommended for people who are low in iron (iron deficient). Usually iron can be given orally but sometimes patients experience side-effects from oral iron (stomach upsets, constipation) or there are situations when oral iron is ineffective or cannot be used, and an iron infusion may be recommended. If the body iron is particularly low an iron infusion may be recommended to increase the iron stores quickly. The aim of the iron infusion therapy is to replenish body iron stores and to remedy anaemia, a reduced level of haemoglobin due to iron deficiency.
It is generally recommended that iron therapy initially be given orally. Iron infusions are however considered safe particularly with the newer iron containing preparations currently available. In the past (older) iron infusions were associated with common side-effects including allergic type reactions. This is much less common with the current iron containing preparation (Ferinject®) but this is still a potential risk. Your doctor will talk to you about the risks and the benefits of having an iron infusion in your particular circumstances.
It is unusual to experience any significant side-effects from an iron infusion with the newer iron containing medications. However, below are the known potential side effects to Ferinject®
- Anaphylaxis with onset of respiratory difficulties and /or cardiovascular collapse - This is rare but is the main reason we have a protocol of observation
Common Side Effects
- Headache, dizziness
- Nausea, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea
- Skin rash
- Injection site reactions
Uncommon Side Effects
- Hypersensitivity including anaphylactoid (allergic) reactions
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Vomiting, heartburn
- Muscle aches, back pain
- Fever, fatigue, chest pain,, malaise, swelling of hands and feet
Rare Side Effects
- Shortness of breath
Please see the full list of side-effects of iron infusions Ferinject®.
There is no particular preparation needed for the iron infusion.
Your doctor will provide a script for Ferinject to be filled at least the day prior to the procedure. The two boxes of Ferinject must be brought to the appointment.
It is recommended to have an antihistamine (eg Zyrtec, Telfast, Claratyne) as well as 2 Paracetamol 1 hour prior to the procedure. It is also helpful if you have had plenty of fluids to drink so finding a vein for the infusion can be easier.
You will be able to drive home after the iron infusion.
Patients requiring an Iron Infusion should allow 1 hour in total for the procedure. The infusion usually only takes 15 – 20 minutes once the IV drip infusion is commenced. You will need to then stay for a further 30 minutes following the infusion to ensure no adverse reaction occurs.
You will be given a pathology referral for a blood collection which should be performed 1 day prior to review with your doctor about 2-4 weeks after the infusion.
Following the procedure it is suggested to have Paracetamol 2 four times per day for 1 day (or longer if needed).
It’s is always important to monitor your own health after an iron infusion. If you experience any significant symptoms (for example chest pain or difficulty breathing) it will be important for you to contact your doctor who administered the iron infusion or an emergency department as soon as possible.
The fee for the infusion is that for a long consultation (Item 36) which is rebateable through Medicare as well as a $60 Procedure Room Fee which is not rebateable.