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Our objective was to systematically evaluate the efficacy and safety of intravenous (IV) iron therapy for treating anaemia in critically ill adults (>16 years) admitted to intensive care or high dependency units. We excluded quasi-RCTs and other not truly randomised trials. We searched 7 electronic databases (including CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and Embase) using a pre-defined search strategy from inception to June 14, 2021. One reviewer screened, extracted, and analysed data, with verification by a second reviewer of all decisions. We used Cochrane risk of bias (ROB) 1 and GRADE to assess the certainty of the evidence. We reported 3 comparisons across 1198 patients, in 8 RCTs: (1) IV iron vs control (7 RCTs, 748 participants); our primary outcome (hemoglobin (Hb) concentration at 10 to 30 days) was reported in 7 of the 8 included trials. There was evidence of an effect (very-low certainty) in favour of IV iron over control in the main comparison only (6 RCTs, n = 528, mean difference (MD) 0.52g/dL [95%CI 0.23, 0.81], P = .0005). For the remaining outcomes there was no evidence of an effect in either direction (low certainty of evidence for Hb concentration at <10 days; very-low certainty of evidence for hospital duration, ICU duration, hospital readmission, infection, mortality; HRQoL outcomes were not GRADED). (2) IV iron + subcutaneous erythropoietin (EPO) vs control (2 RCTs, 104 participants); reported outcomes showed no evidence of effect in either direction, based on very-low certainty evidence (Hb concentration at 10-30 days, and <10 days, infection, mortality). (3) Hepcidin-guided treatment with IV iron or iron+ EPO vs standard care (1 RCT, 399 participants) reported evidence of an effect in favour of the intervention for 90-day mortality (low certainty of evidence), but no other group differences for the reported outcomes (low certainty evidence for Hb concentration at 10-30 days, hospital duration; HRQoL was not GRADED). The evidence across all comparisons was downgraded for high and unclear ROB for lack of blinding, incomplete outcome data, baseline imbalance, and imprecision around the estimate (wide CIs and small sample size). In conclusion, the current evidence continues to support further investigation into the role for iron therapy in increasing Hb in critically ill patients. Recent, small, trials have begun to focus on patient-centred outcomes but a large, well conducted, and adequately powered trial is needed to inform clinical practice.

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Journal article


Transfusion Medicine Reviews

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