referral criteria from primary care - vitamin B12 deficiency
Last edited 05/2022
Seek urgent advice from a haematologist if:
- the patient is pregnant
- if functional B12 deficiency is suspected i.e. strong clinical features of B12 deficiency, e.g. megaloblastic anaemia or subacute combined degeneration of the cord, despite normal vitamin B12 (1)
- if pancytopenia then seek urgent advice from a haematologist (2)
- haematological malignancy or other blood disorder is suspected - refer urgently using a suspected cancer pathway referral
Non urgent haematology referral/seeking expert haematologist advice:
- following investigations the cause of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency is unclear or uncertain (2)
- non-response to vitamin B12 treatment.
- mean cell volume is persistently greater than 105 femtolitres (4)
Consider seeking urgent advice from a neurologist if:
- neurological symptoms are present
Refer to a gastroenterologist if:
- malabsorption is suspected or if there is a suspicion of gastric cancer or coeliac disease
- gastroscopy is recommended initially in patients diagnosed with pernicious anaemia for the diagnosis of atrophic gastritis and for evaluation of gastric malignancies (3)
- if pernicious anaemia and gastrointestinal symptoms - particularly if there is a suspicion of gastric cancer (for example co-existing iron deficiency)
- if there is a suspicion of gastric cancer then refer urgently using a suspected cancer pathway referral
Consider referral to a dietician if B12 deficiency is due to poor diet.
- (1) NHS Wiltshire CCG. Investigation and treatment of Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency in primary care (accessed 13/05/2022).
- (2) Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust. Guidelines for the Investigation & Management of vitamin B12 deficiency (accessed 13/05/2022).
- (3) Mohamed M, Thio J, Thomas RS, Phillips J. Pernicious anaemia. BMJ. 2020 Apr 24;369:m1319. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m1319. PMID: 32332011.
- (4) NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS). Anaemia- B12 and folate deficiency. Available from: https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/anaemia-b12-folate-deficiency/#:~:text=Anaemia%20%2D%20B12%20and%20folate%20deficiency%3A%20Summary,due%20to%20defective%20DNA%20synthesis (accessed 13/05/2022).