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January 22, 1992

A Tradition of Testing Ironclad Practices

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Hematology-Oncology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, and the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Richmond, Va.

JAMA. 1992;267(4):560-561. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480040108041

The therapeutic use of iron in medicine goes back nearly as far as recorded medicine itself. In 1500 BC, the Egyptians used iron therapeutically.1 The ancient Hindu medicine Lauha Bhasma is essentially an iron preparation.2 Cycles of iron use in excessive, ineffective, and appropriate doses have come and gone in medical practice. Indeed, current iron therapy has its relatively recent roots in the initial ferrokinetic studies performed in the middle of this century.3-6 Now Zauber et al in this issue of THE Journal7 have improved our understanding a bit more. Their article is important for two reasons: first, they have shown that iron supplementation is not always necessary after surgery involving significant blood loss; and second, they have questioned and studied a commonly accepted medical practice and found it to be unsubstantiated.

See also p 525.

Their study took advantage of the fact that their surgical