Iron Infusions

What is an iron infusion?

An iron infusion is a minor procedure when an iron containing medicine is infused directly into the blood circulation. The iron containing preparation (1000 mg of Ferric carboxymaltose (FCM) also known as FERINJECT®) circulates and is delivered to the body organs that require iron for normal functioning. Iron is an essential element required for the oxygen-carrying capacity of haemoglobin in red blood cells and of myoglobin in muscle tissue. Moreover, iron plays an important role in many other vital processes in the human body. In particular, Ferric carboxymaltose (FCM) is an iron preparation that has characteristics that allow larger single doses to be administered over a shorter infusion period compared with previously used IV iron preparations.

Who is likely to be iron deficient?

  • Women – blood loss due to monthly periods, pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • People over age 65 often due to poor diet
  • Vegetarians and Vegans
  • People who have trouble absorbing iron (some medications can interfere with iron absorption including coeliac disease)

Iron deficiency is diagnosed by a blood test.  People who suffer from iron deficiency anemia and do not respond to, or cannot tolerate (stomach upsets, constipation), oral iron therapy may benefit from an intravenous iron infusion. 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.

Are iron infusions safe?

Yes, 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 (Ferric carboxymaltose FCM also known as FERINJECT®). Your doctor will talk to you about the risks and the benefits of having an iron infusion in your particular circumstances.

What are the side-effects of an iron infusion with FCM?

It is unusual to experience any significant side-effects from an iron infusion with the newer iron containing medications. Some patients may experience a headache or feel nauseated. Less commonly some patients experience flushing, a disturbance in taste, itchiness, discoloration of skin at the administration site, fever and chills.

Rarely, patients may have an allergic reaction to the iron preparation. For this reason patients are monitored by nursing staff during and following the infusion.

How long does the iron infusion take?

The infusion usually only takes 15 – 20 minutes once the IV drip infusion is commenced.