European Radiology

, Volume 17, Issue 8, pp 2079–2087 | Cite as

Bone marrow changes in beta-thalassemia major: quantitative MR imaging findings and correlation with iron stores

  • Eleni E. Drakonaki
  • Thomas G. Maris
  • Alex Papadakis
  • Apostolos H. Karantanas
Magnetic Resonance


The purpose of this study is to describe the MR imaging features of bone marrow in beta-thalassemia major and investigate their relation to ferritin, liver and spleen siderosis. Spinal bone marrow was prospectively assessed on abdominal MR studies of 40 transfused beta-thalassemic patients and 15 controls using T1-w, Pd, T2*-w Gradient Echo (GRE) and T1-w turbo Spin Echo (TSE) sequences. Signal intensity (SI) ratios of liver, spleen and bone marrow to paraspinous muscles (L/M, S/M, B/M respectively) and the respective T2 relaxation rates (1/T2) were calculated. Serum ferritin levels were recorded. Bone marrow hypointensity in at least T2*-w GRE sequence was noted in 29/40 (72.5%) patients. Eleven/40 patients exhibited normal B/M on all MR sequences. Five/40 patients had normal B/M and low L/M. B/M correlated with L/M in T1-w TSE sequence only (r = 0.471, p = 0.05). B/M correlated with S/M and mean ferritin values in all sequences (r > 0.489, p < 0.01 and r  >  − 0.496, p < 0.03 respectively). Marrow 1/T2 did not correlate with ferritin values or liver and spleen 1/T2. B/M in transfused beta-thalassemic patients is related to splenic siderosis and ferritin levels. Although marrow is usually hypointense, it may occasionally display normal SI coexisting with liver hypointensity, a pattern typical of primary hemochromatosis.


Bone marrow Iron MR imaging Thalassemia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eleni E. Drakonaki
    • 1
  • Thomas G. Maris
    • 2
  • Alex Papadakis
    • 3
  • Apostolos H. Karantanas
    • 1
  1. 1.Radiology DepartmentUniversity Hospital of HeraklionHeraklionGreece
  2. 2.Department of Medical PhysicsUniversity of CreteHeraklionGreece
  3. 3.Venizelion General HospitalHeraklionGreece

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