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Prospective survey of investigations in outpatients referred with iron deficiency anaemia.
  1. A S McIntyre,
  2. R G Long
  1. City Hospital, Nottingham.


    Recent evidence has suggested that colonic neoplasm may be missed in patients presenting with iron deficiency anaemia unless colonic investigations are performed on all patients even when an alternative cause has been found. This study prospectively surveyed 114 consecutive patients referred from family practitioners to an outpatient clinic for the investigation of iron deficiency anaemia to determine the diagnoses contributing to the anaemia, the usefulness of certain clinical features, and the role of colonic and other investigations in obtaining the diagnosis. Upper gastrointestinal lesions contributing to anaemia were identified in 45 patients while colonic lesions were found in 18. Twenty three patients had a non-gastrointestinal cause for anaemia and in 12 patients no cause was found. Only two patients were identified as having colonic neoplasia (a small adenomatous polyp in each case) coexisting with upper gastrointestinal lesions. Symptoms and signs had a sensitivity and specificity of upper gastrointestinal disease of 50% and 83% respectively, and 44% and 80% for colonic disease. Endoscopy had a high yield (42%) and duodenal biopsy identified coeliac disease in three patients (two were aged > 70 years) each of whom had normal folate values. Barium enema had a yield of 13%. All colonic carcinomas occurred in patients > 65 years. The coexistence of colonic cancer or large polyps with an upper gastrointestinal lesion identified at endoscopy was rare in outpatients referred from family practitioners. Clinical symptoms and signs were poor indicators of the investigations that will detect a cause for the anaemia.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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