Prevalence of Anemia and Iron Deficiency in Pediatric Patients on Ventricular Assist Devices

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The prevalence and characteristics of anemia and iron deficiency in children supported by a ventricular assist device (VAD) are unknown. Patients <21 years of age on durable VAD support for ≥7 days at Texas Children’s Hospital from 2006 to 2015 were retrospectively reviewed. Red blood cell (RBC) and iron deficiency indices in pulsatile VAD (P-VAD) and continuous-flow VAD (CF-VAD) were evaluated. Anemia, iron deficiency, and iron therapy regimens were identified. Seventy-six VAD implants in 74 patients were included: 45 P-VAD and 31 CF-VAD. Overall, 48% (36/75) of patients were anemic at VAD implant, with 67% of CF-VAD and 34% of P-VAD affected. Iron deficiency was seen in 52% (39/75) of patients at implant (similar in both groups). At explant, 71% (53/75) had anemia (similar in both groups). No patients had microcytosis. Iron supplementation was given to 20 patients, with four receiving target replacement therapy (2–6 mg/kg/d × 90 days). Red blood cell transfusion volumes were higher for P-VAD versus CF-VAD. We concluded that anemia and iron deficiency are common in pediatric VAD patients. Pulsatile VAD patients tend to develop anemia over the course of VAD support. Lack of microcytosis, likely masked by high RBC transfusions, suggests that specific iron studies are necessary to identify iron deficiency.

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