What Is the Difference Between Iron Infusion and Transfusion?

An iron transfusion is a transfusion of red blood cells meant for short-term treatment of anemia; an iron infusion through an IV is meant for long-term treatment of patients with severe anemia, though it is sometimes used to quickly correct severe deficiencies, as stated by the NIH. Iron transfusions are generally considered safer than iron infusions but may not provide the same benefits.

Anemia is a very common condition, according to the American Society of Hematology. Blood transfusions are usually given to patients with iron-deficiency anemia who are actively bleeding or who suffer from severe symptoms such as weakness or chest pain. This treatment is only a temporary measure and does not provide permanent improvement, as it is only meant to replace deficient red blood cells. Blood transfusions are usually combined with other treatments such as iron supplements and dietary changes.

Patients who cannot absorb iron in their gastrointestinal tract or who cannot tolerate oral iron may need an iron infusion. The infusion is done through an intravenous line and provides large doses of iron in varying preparations. This procedure offers more iron than a transfusion, but comes with other risks. Severe side effects of an iron infusion include itching, hives and pain in the joints and muscles; allergic reaction to the iron preparation can also occur, notes the American Society of Hematology.