BACKGROUND: Thalassemic patients suffer from diabetes mellitus secondary to hemosiderosis.<br /><br />AIMS: The study aimed to evaluate pancreatic iron overload by T2*-weighted Gradient-echo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in young beta-thalassemia major patients and to correlate it with glucose disturbances, hepatic hemosiderosis, serum ferritin and splenectomy.<br /><br />METHODS: Forty thalassemic patients (20 non diabetic, 10 diabetic, and 10 with impaired glucose tolerance) were recruited from Pediatric Hematology Clinic, in addition to 20 healthy controls. All patients underwent clinical assessment and laboratory investigations included complete blood count, liver function tests, serum ferritin and oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). A T2*-weighted gradient-echo sequence MRI was performed with 1.5 T scanner and signal intensity ratio (SIR) of the liver and the pancreas to noise were calculated.<br /><br />RESULTS: Significant reduction in signal intensity ratio (SIR) of the liver and the pancreas was shown in thalassemic patients compared to controls (P < 0.0001), Thalassemic patients with abnormal glucose tolerance; including diabetics and thalassemics with impaired glucose tolerance; displayed a higher degree of pancreatic and hepatic siderosis compared to thalassemics with normal glucose tolerance or controls (P < 0.001, P < 0.0001). Splenectomized thalassemic patients had significantly lower SIR of pancreas compared to non splenectomized patients (P < 0.05). A strong correlation was present between hepatic and pancreatic siderosis in studied patients (P < 0.001).<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS: pancreatic siderosis can be detected by T2* gradient-echo MRI since childhood in thalassemic patients, and is more evident in patients with abnormal glucose tolerance. After splenectomy, iron deposition may be accelerated in the pancreas. Follow up of thalassemic patients using pancreatic MRI together with intensive chelation therapy may help to prevent the development of overt diabetes.
Matter, R. M., Allam, K. E., & Sadony, A. M. (2010). Gradient-echo magnetic resonance imaging study of pancreatic iron overload in young Egyptian beta-thalassemia major patients and effect of splenectomy. Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1758-5996-2-23