Original Paper

Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 53, Issue 12, pp 3138-3144

First online:

Prevalence and Predictive Signs for Gastrointestinal Lesions in Premenopausal Women with Iron Deficiency Anemia

  • Dan CarterAffiliated withDepartment of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, Sheba Medical Center Email author 
  • , Yaacov MaorAffiliated withDepartment of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, Sheba Medical Center
  • , Simon Bar-MeirAffiliated withDepartment of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, Sheba Medical Center
  • , Benjamin AvidanAffiliated withDepartment of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, Sheba Medical Center

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Introduction The reported rates of gastrointestinal (GI) lesions among pre-menopausal women with iron deficiency anemia (IDA) vary considerably. Aim To assess the prevalence of significant gastrointestinal lesions among symptomatic and asymptomatic pre-menopausal women with IDA, and to shed light on potential predictors of their presence. Methods Clinical, endoscopic, and histological data was collected from 116 pre-menopausal women with IDA. All women underwent upper and lower gastrointestinal tract endoscopies, duodenal biopsies, and small bowel evaluation with small bowel series or computed tomography. Results The mean age was 33 years (range: 18–45). Clinically, significant lesions were demonstrated in 30%, the majority in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Helicobacter pylori gastritis was the most common finding (16%). Celiac disease was detected in 6%. No malignant lesions were detected. The prevalence of lesions was highest among women with symptoms of heartburn and regurgitation. The presence of upper gastrointestinal symptoms (OR: 3.67, 95%CI: 2.14–5.03; P = 0.002), MCV lower than 70 pg (OR: 1.88, 95%CI: 1.27–3.91; P = 0.04), and hemoglobin levels less than 10 g/dl (OR: 1.71, 95%CI: 1.19–4.07; P = 0.05) were associated with an increased likelihood of significant gastrointestinal lesions; history of heavy menstrual blood loss was associated with negative findings (OR: 0.46, 95%CI: 0.27–0.69; P = 0.002). Conclusions Upper GI findings, mainly HP gastritis and celiac disease, were the most common pathologic findings. Initial evaluation of IDA in premenopausal women may include urea breath test and celiac serology. Further endoscopic evaluation can be reserved for those women who are found to be negative in the initial evaluation, as well as in cases of failure of IDA remission after successful HP eradication.


Iron deficiency anemia Helicobacter pylori Celiac disease Premenopausal women