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Abstract Background Iron deficiency has deleterious effects in patients with cardiopulmonary disease, independent of anemia. Low ferritin has been associated with increased mortality in patients undergoing cardiac surgery, but modern indices of iron deficiency need to be explored in this population. Methods We conducted a retrospective single-centre observational study of 250 adults in a UK academic tertiary hospital undergoing median sternotomy for non-emergent isolated aortic valve replacement. We characterised preoperative iron status using measurement of both plasma ferritin and soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), and examined associations with clinical outcomes. Results Measurement of plasma sTfR gave a prevalence of iron deficiency of 22%. Patients with non-anemic iron deficiency had clinically significant prolongation of total hospital stay (mean increase 2.2 days; 95% CI: 0.5–3.9; P = 0.011) and stay within the cardiac intensive care unit (mean increase 1.3 days; 95% CI: 0.1–2.5; P = 0.039). There were no deaths. Defining iron deficiency as a plasma ferritin < 100 µg/L identified 60% of patients as iron deficient and did not predict length of stay. No significant associations with transfusion requirements were evident using either definition of iron deficiency. Conclusions These findings indicate that when defined using sTfR rather than ferritin, non-anemic iron deficiency predicts prolonged hospitalisation following surgical aortic valve replacement. Further studies are required to clarify the role of contemporary laboratory indices in the identification of preoperative iron deficiency in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. An interventional study of intravenous iron targeted at preoperative non-anemic iron deficiency is warranted.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery


Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date