Editorial: Ann R Coll Surg Engl
Lau KK, Utukuri MM, Ramachandran M, Jones DH.
INTRODUCTION: There is increasing evidence that the anaemia of surgery is not iron deficient and is, therefore, unresponsive to iron supplementation. Oral iron is best avoided postoperatively, particularly in children, due to its dose-dependent side effects. We undertook a national survey of major paediatric orthopaedic surgical units in the UK to investigate the current management of postoperative anaemia with particular reference to iron supplementation. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Middle-grade doctors and charge nurses at 23 major paediatric orthopaedic units in the UK were contacted by telephone and a structured questionnaire was used to determine the management of postoperative anaemia in major hip, pelvic and spinal surgery. RESULTS: Only one (4.3%) of the units surveyed had a formally established protocol for the management of postoperative anaemia. Only 10 out of 23 units (43.5%) did not routinely prescribe iron postoperatively. Of the remaining units, 11 commenced iron based on the postoperative haemoglobin level while only 2 used iron supplementation after investigation of serum haematinics for iron deficiency. One unit used erythropoietin in the treatment of postoperative anaemia. CONCLUSIONS: Iron supplementation continues to be used in major paediatric orthopaedic surgery in the treatment of postoperative anaemia in the absence of iron deficiency. Given the current available evidence, we call for an end to the practice of routine iron supplementation for postoperative anaemia following major paediatric orthopaedic surgery in the UK