Post-transplant anaemia remains a common problem after kidney transplantation, with an incidence ranging from nearly 80% at day 0 to about 25% at 1 year. It has been associated with poor graft outcome, and recently has also been shown to be associated with increased mortality.
Our transplant unit routinely administers oral iron supplements to renal transplant recipients but this is frequently accompanied by side effects, mainly gastrointestinal intolerance. Intravenous iron is frequently administered to dialysis patients and we sought to investigate this mode of administration in transplant recipients after noticing less anaemia in several patients who had received intravenous iron just prior to being called in for transplantation.
This study is a single-centre, prospective, open-label, randomised, controlled trial of oral versus intravenous iron supplements in renal transplant recipients and aims to recruit approximately 100 patients over a 12-month period. Patients will be randomised to receive a single dose of 500 mg iron polymaltose (intravenous iron group) or 2 ferrous sulphate slow-release tablets daily (oral iron group). The primary outcome is time to normalisation of haemoglobin post-transplant. Prospective power calculations have indicated that a minimum of 48 patients in each group would have to be followed up for 3 months in order to have a 90% probability of detecting a halving of the time to correction of haemoglobin levels to ≥110 g/l in iron-treated patients, assuming an α of 0.05. All eligible adult patients undergoing renal transplantation at the Princess Alexandra Hospital will be offered participation in the trial. Exclusion criteria will include iron overload (transferrin saturation >50% or ferritin >800 μg/l), or previous intolerance of either oral or intravenous iron supplements.
If the trial shows a reduction in the time to correction of anaemia with intravenous iron or less side effects than oral iron, then intravenous iron may become the standard of treatment in this patient group.