IRON INFUSION

COST:

Patients with Medicare: $100 out of pocket plus the cost of your Script (Ferinject is available on the PBS)

WHAT IS AN IRON INFUSION?

Intravenous or IV means giving something directly into the blood stream of the body through a vein. A needle placed into a vein (usually in the back of the hand or arm) is attached to a syringe or a drip that contains iron. This fluid is slowly infused into the vein and mixes with the blood in your body.

 

WHY IS IRON IMPORTANT?

Our bodies need iron. Iron is used to make haemoglobin – the part of our red blood cells that carries oxygen around our body. It is also important for muscle strength, energy and good mental function.

If your iron levels are low this may make you feel tired and not able to do normal daily activities.

As the amount of iron in the body falls even lower, the haemoglobin level drops below normal. This is known as ‘iron deficiency’.

 

WHY MIGHT I NEED IV IRON?

The most common way to treat iron deficiency is to take iron by mouth as a tablet or liquid. This works well for most people and is usually tried first.

Some people may need iron to be given straight into the body through a vein. This is called an Intravenous (IV) iron infusion. The iron is given through a needle and dripped (‘infused’) into your vein.

Sometimes 2 iron infusions (given at least 1 week apart) are needed to fully top up iron stores. The infusion is made up of iron, not blood. IV iron might be needed if you:

  • Are not able to take iron tablets / liquid
  • Are not responding to iron tablets / liquid or not absorbing them
  • Need to get your iron levels up quickly (e.g. before major surgery, late in pregnancy or to avoid blood transfusion)
  • If you have chronic kidney disease or chronic heart failure

Your doctor should explain why you need IV iron and the other options

 

RISKS AND BENEFITS OF IV IRON

Your doctor will explain the risks, benefits & available alternatives to IV iron in your particular case. The most significant risk of IV iron is a small chance of having an allergic reaction which can, in rare cases, be life threatening. IV Iron is prescribed for iron deficiency when oral iron is not tolerated, effective or likely to work quickly enough & the benefits if IV iron outweigh the risk in your particular case. If there is a chance you could be pregnant, inform your doctor as IV iron should be avoided in the 1st trimester in pregnancy.

 

HOW MUCH IRON IS NEEDED?

your doctor will calculate how much iron is needed to return your Hb levels to normal and also to have some iron stored in reserve for the future. when all the iron needed by the body is given in a single infusion (one treatment) this is called a total dose infusion. sometimes a total dose is needed but in other cases just giving smaller amounts of iv iron can help increase Hb levels enough to improve symptoms and help avoid a blood transfusion. the rest of the iron can then be given back to the body slowly over the coming months with iron tablets. the iron will take a few weeks to have its full effect and your doctor will check your Hb levels to see how you are responding.

 

TYPES OF IRON

At MyClinic we use Iron Carboxymaltose (Ferinject). It can be given as medium dose over about 15 minutes. It may need repeating on another occasion. The doctor will chat to you about this.

As FERINJECT is not suitable for patients in some conditions. Speak to the Doctor if you fall into any of the categories below:

  • Pregnancy in the 1st trimester
  • Dialysis
  • Allergy/Sensitivity to Ferric Carboxymaltose
  • Iron overload/Haemochromotis
  • Under the age of 14 years
  • Non-iron deficiency related anaemia
  • Suffering from fever/sepsis

 

ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS WITH IV IRON?

Generally, when side effects do occur, they are mild and settle down on their own. The most common side effects are temporary and include:

  • Headache, feeling sick or vomiting, muscle or joint pain
  • Changes in taste (eg. metallic)
  • Changes to blood pressure or pulse Skin staining (brown discolouration) may occur due to leakage of iron into the tissues around the needle (drip) site.
  • This is not common but the stain can be long lasting or permanent.
  • Inform the doctor or nurse straight away of any discomfort, burning, redness or swelling at the needle (drip) site.

Although very uncommon, some people may have a serious hypersensitivity reaction or anaphylactoid reaction. In rare cases this can be life threatening. You will be closely monitored while IV iron is given, and for 30 minutes after. Sometimes side effects (e.g. headache, muscle or joint pain) can start 1 to 2 days later. Mostly they will settle down by themselves over the next couple of days. If they worry you or interfere with your daily activities contact your doctor for advice.

If you have chest pain, trouble breathing, dizziness or neck / mouth swelling, please seek urgent medical attention / call an ambulance (000).

 

BEFORE YOU HAVE IV IRON

  1. You need to tell your doctor and the clinic doing your iron infusion if you:
  2. Are pregnant / trying to get pregnant. IV iron should be avoided in the first trimester.
  3. Have a history of asthma, eczema or other allergies. Have had a reaction to any type of iron injection or infusion in the past.
  4. Have a history of high iron levels, haemochromatosis or liver problems.
  5. Are on any medications (including herbal and over the counter medicines).
  6. Have (or may have) an infection at the moment.
  7. Anything else you think may be relevant for the doctor to know.

 

WHAT HAPPENS ON THE DAY?

There is nothing special that you need to do to get ready for the day of iron infusion (e.g. you don’t need to fast). Please ensure you are well hydrated to assist with cannulation – eat and drink as normal. Unless you have an unexpected reaction, you will be able to drive home and do your normal activities.

You will be closely monitored while IV iron is given, and for 30 minutes after. Sometimes side effects (e.g. headache, muscle or joint pain) can start 1 to 2 days later. Mostly they will settle down by themselves over the next couple of days. If they worry you or interfere with your daily activities contact your doctor for advice.

If you have chest pain, trouble breathing, dizziness or neck / mouth swelling, please seek urgent medical attention / call an ambulance (000).

Before leaving the clinic, ensure that you have:

  1. the number to contact if you have any worries or questions
  2. the dates for any follow up tests and/or appointments

 

AFTER THE IRON INFUSION

Unless you have an unexpected reaction, you will be able to drive home and do your normal activities. Sometimes side effects (eg. headache, muscle or joint pain) can start 1 to 2 days later. Mostly they will settle down by themselves over the next couple of days. If they worry you or interfere with your daily activities contact your doctor for advice.

If you have chest pain, trouble breathing, dizziness or neck / mouth swelling, please seek urgent medical attention / call an ambulance (000).