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Pediatr Radiol. 2007 Dec;37(12):1191-200; quiz 1308-9. Epub 2007 Aug 21.

MRI evaluation of tissue iron burden in patients with beta-thalassaemia major.

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Radiology Department, Medical School, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, GR-45110, Greece.


beta-Thalassaemia major is a hereditary haemolytic anaemia that is treated with multiple blood transfusions. A major complication of this treatment is iron overload, which leads to cell death and organ dysfunction. Chelation therapy, used for iron elimination, requires effective monitoring of the body burden of iron, for which serum ferritin levels and liver iron content measured in liver biopsies are used as markers, but are not reliable. MRI based on iron-induced T2 relaxation enhancement can be used for the evaluation of tissue siderosis. Various MR protocols using signal intensity ratio and mainstream relaxometry methods have been used, sometimes with discrepant results. Relaxometry methods using multiple echoes achieve better sampling of the time domain in which relaxation mechanisms take place and lead to more precise results. In several studies the MRI parameters of liver siderosis have failed to correlate with those of other affected organs, underlining the necessity for MRI iron evaluation in individual organs. Most studies have included children in the evaluated population, but MRI data on very young children are lacking. Wider application of relaxometry methods is indicated, with the establishment of universally accepted MRI protocols, and further studies, including young children, are needed.

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