, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 211-217
Date: 13 Dec 2011

Quantitative T2* Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Evaluation of Iron Deposition in the Brain of β-Thalassemia Patients

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Abstract

Background

Iron overload is a common clinical problem in patients with β-thalassemia major. The purpose of this study was to assess the presence of excess iron in certain areas of the brain (thalamus, midbrain, adenohypophysis and basal ganglia) in patients with β-thalassemia major and evaluate the association with serum ferritin and liver iron content.

Materials and methods

A cross-sectional study on 53 patients with β-thalassemia major and 40 healthy controls was carried out. All patients and healthy controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations of the brain and liver. Multiecho fast gradient echo sequence was used and T2* values were calculated based on the Brompton protocol. Correlations between T2* values in the brain with T2* values in the liver as well as serum ferritin levels were investigated.

Results

There were no significant differences between patients and healthy controls with respect to age and sex. Patients had significantly lower T2* values in basal ganglia (striatum), thalamus and adenohypophysis compared to controls while there were no differences in the midbrain (red nucleus). There were no significant correlations between liver T2* values or serum ferritin with T2* values of basal ganglia (striatum), thalamus and adenohypophysis in patients or healthy controls. There were no significant correlations between T2* values of adenohypophysis and thalamus or basal ganglia (striatum) while these variables were significantly correlated in healthy controls.

Conclusions

Serum ferritin and liver iron content may not be good indicators of brain iron deposition in patients with β thalassemia major. Nevertheless, the quantitative T2* MRI technique is useful for evaluation of brain iron overload in β thalassemia major patients.