Last week was Blood Management Awareness Week (November 3 – 7) and, as part of a provincial patient blood management program, I think it’s only fitting to talk about blood management and iron deficiency, specifically how it relates to surgery.
Few people realize that their blood health will play an important role when it comes time for surgery and many don’t even realize that they have an issue with iron deficiency until it’s found as a part of their pre-surgical blood assessment.
So what does your iron deficiency have to do with surgery anyway?
Anemia is very common after surgery because of the amount of blood lost, which varies depending on the procedure. For someone who is iron deficient before the procedure, the risk of complications becomes a lot higher. According to the Society for the Advancement of Blood Management, the prevalence of pre-operative anemia in patients can range anywhere from 11% to 76%. After some surgeries, like Gastrointestinal Surgery, the risk may be even higher since iron absorption is compromised due to inflammation or reduction of the absorption site (ie. bariatric surgery).
What does pre-op blood assessment do?
Pre-operative blood assessment can help diagnose iron deficiency as well as help your doctor manage the iron deficiency before surgery. This can help to reduce potential side effects post-surgery.
In some cases, a person may not even be fit to have the elective surgery they need because of depleted iron stores. While the increasing wait time for surgery isn’t good news, it does allow ample time for blood management to intervene and optimize a patient’s iron level so that the individual can be ready for the procedure when the day arrives. A Fraser Institute Report published in 2013 reported that the wait times for surgeries and other therapeutic treatments were up to 18 weeks in Canada.
Blood assessment before surgery monitors your iron level and allows your doctor to manage it with oral iron supplements or with iron given through injection. The management of your iron beforehand doesn’t just get your levels to where they should be so that you are fit for surgery, but can also improve post-operative hemoglobin, lowering your risk of anemia.
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Content and advice provided on The Iron Maiden is for information purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for a licensed health care provider, who is knowledgeable about an individual’s unique health care needs
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