Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Findings in Men with Unexplained Anemia and Low Normal Ferritin Values

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Background:Most practice guidelines recommend endoscopic evaluation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract in men and postmenopausal women with anemia and a serum ferritin less than 20-40 ng/ml. The diagnostic yield of endoscopy in patients with anemia, no GI symptoms or signs, and low normal ferritin is not known.Objective:The aim of this study was to investigate the yield of upper and lower GI endoscopic evaluations in anemic patients with ferritin levels between 40 and 100 ng/ml. Design: A retrospective review of patients' charts was conducted.Subjects and methods:Patients at the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System who underwent GI endoscopic evaluation for the sole indication of anemia and ferritin in the low normal range (40-100 ng/ml) were included in this study.Measurements:Incidence of pathology of the upper and lower GI tract was determined. Results: We identified 54 male patients who had a ferritin level of 40-100 ng/ml and no GI symptoms or known GI bleeding. Upper GI findings (malignancy, peptic ulcers, Helicobacter pylori gastritis, arteriovenous malformations) were found in 14/47 cases (30%). Lower gastrointestinal findings, including large tubular adenomas and arteriovenous malformation, were identified in 3/53 cases (6.7%).Conclusion:Our study supports GI endoscopy in anemic patients with ferritin between 40 and 100 ng/ml, even in the absence of GI symptoms or documented bleeding.

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