Long-Term Outcomes and Prognostic Factors for Patients with Endoscopy-Negative Iron Deficiency
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Background and Aim
Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a common problem among the elderly, and often no cause is identified after routine upper endoscopy and colonoscopy exams. The purpose of this study was to determine the long-term outcomes and predictors of gastrointestinal pathology and death in patients with endoscopy-negative IDA.
This was a retrospective review of consecutive endoscopy negative-IDA patients during 2002–2004 at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.
Mean age was 69.3 years (range 42–93), and included 105 men and nine women. Mean length of follow-up was 65.1 months. IDA resolved in 56 patients. None of these patients developed evidence of any clinically significant gastrointestinal pathology. The remaining 58 patients had persistent anemia (n = 47) or recurrent anemia (n = 11). Only 2/47 patients with persistent anemia were found to have clinically significant but benign gastrointestinal pathology during follow-up. In contrast, 6/11 patients with recurrent anemia were subsequently found to have gastrointestinal pathology. Deaths during follow-up occurred in 7 (12.5 %) patients with resolved anemia, compared with 20 (34.5 %) patients with recurrent or persistent anemia (p = 0.006). Significant independent predictors of death included persistent or recurrent anemia, anti-platelet or anticoagulant use, and congestive heart failure.
Patients with iron deficiency anemia and negative upper endoscopy and colonoscopy often have a favorable outcome, especially if the anemia resolves with treatment. In patients with recurrent anemia a malignancy within reach of standard endoscopy and colonoscopy are possible, and repeating these procedures is warranted before consideration of further investigations.