Intravenous iron infusion is used for patients with severe forms of anemia, for bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, for kidney dialysis patients or for those having an iron-deficiency and are facing high blood loss surgery within a two-month period. The IV treatment is also used when oral supplements aren't tolerated.
Iron is found in hemoglobin, a material that helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to the body. Iron deficiencies can be caused by excessive blood loss, such as in bleeding ulcers, iron-poor diets, medications that inhibit the body's absorption of iron and, in the case of pregnancy, when the body requires more iron than usual. Any of these factors can cause iron-deficiency anemia.
Physicians first try changing the patient's diet, combined with oral iron supplements. Some patients can't tolerate the tablets, so they may have to have intravenous iron treatments. The supplement is delivered by an IV needle directly into the blood stream.
Patients who are on oral iron supplements may still need the IV treatments. If the tablets are combined with erythropoietin-stimulating agents, or ESAs, and there is no or little improvement, the IV is warranted. ESAs are delivered via injection to speed up the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow.