The difference in endoscopic yield in patients with either iron-deficiency anemia or anemia with normal ferritin

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Current guidelines recommend a gastroduodenoscopy (GDS) and colonoscopy in patients with iron-deficiency anemia (IDA). However, in daily practice, patients with nonferriprive anemia are also referred for endoscopy. The aim of this study is to compare the diagnostic yield of colonoscopy and GDS in patients with IDA and non-IDA.

Patients and methods

A retrospective single-center cohort study was carried out from January 2013 till February 2016 that included 917 patients with anemia. We compared the endoscopic yield in patients with IDA versus patients with anemia otherwise. Multivariate regression analyses were carried out to identify predictive factors for the diagnostic yield of GDS and colonoscopy.


The yield of both GDS (25%) and colonoscopy (30%) was comparable in IDA and non-IDA patients. However, in patients without known gastrointestinal medical history and without concomitant indications for endoscopy (N=373), the diagnostic yield of GDS was three times higher in IDA patients compared with non-IDA patients (P<0.01). The diagnostic yield for colonoscopy was not significantly different between the two groups. Age and sex were recurrent predictive variables in the outcome of both GDS and colonoscopies.


We recommend IDA as well as non-IDA as indications for GDS and colonoscopy. Only in patients without gastrointestinal history or localizing complaints a significant difference in the diagnostic yield is found between IDA and non-IDA patients. In this group, upper endoscopy can be omitted in non-IDA patients as they were three times less likely to have a bleeding source found on GDS compared with IDA patients.

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