Over the last decade, preoperative anemia has become recognized as a clinical condition in need of management. Although the etiology of preoperative anemia can be multifactorial, two thirds of anemic elective surgical patients have iron deficiency anemia. At the same time, one third of nonanemic elective surgical patients are also iron deficient.
Modified RAND Delphi methodology was used to identify areas of consensus among an expert panel regarding the management of iron deficiency in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. A list of statements was sent to panel members to respond to using a five-point Likert scale. All panel members subsequently attended a face-to-face meeting. The initial survey was presented and discussed, and panel members responded to each statement on the Likert scale again. Based on the second survey, the panel came to a consensus on recommendations.
The panel recommended all patients undergoing cardiac surgery be evaluated for iron deficiency, whether or not anemia is present. Evaluation should include iron studies and reticulocyte hemoglobin content. If iron deficiency is present, with or without anemia, patients should receive parenteral iron. Erythropoietin-stimulating agents may be appropriate for some patients.
Consensus of an expert panel resulted in a standardized approach to diagnosing and managing iron deficiency in patients undergoing cardiac surgery.