functional iron deficiency

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functional iron deficiency

A deficiency of iron significant enough to affect the development of healthy red blood cells. It may precede the appearance of measurable anemia.

Patient care

Functional iron deficiency may be defined by the presence of hypochromatic red cells; by an increase in hemoglobin production after test doses of administered iron; or, most accurately, by the measurement of the mean hemoglobin content of reticulocytes. It is common in patients receiving hemodialysis and in critically ill persons.


Treatments include iron and folate supplements and epoetin alpha (Procrit) to increase red blood cell production. In emergencies, infusion of fresh frozen packed cells or washed packed cells provide temporary relief.

See also: deficiency
References in periodicals archive ?
These reticulocyte changes will prevent the identification of functional iron deficiency based on reduced CHr.
The diagnosis of iron deficiency or functional iron deficiency is particularly challenging in patients with acute or chronic inflammatory conditions because most of the biochemical markers for iron metabolism are affected by acute-phase reaction.
Detection of functional iron deficiency during erythropoietin treatment: a new approach.
ROC curve analysis in individuals with functional iron deficiency shows that the biochemical markers display better sensitivity and specificity in the absence of an acute-phase reaction (C-reactive protein [less than or equal to]5 mg/L).
A diagnostic plot combining CHr and serum TfR-ferritin index allows identification of four major categories: (a) iron-repleted, normal erythropoiesis (CHr and TfR-ferritin index within appropriate reference values); (b) iron-depleted erythropoiesis (reduced CHr; increased TfR-ferritin index); (c) functional iron deficiency (reduced CHr; TfR-ferritin index within reference values); and (d) reduced iron supply with still-normal erythropoiesis (CHr within reference values; increased TfR-ferritin index).

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