Hemochromatosis CT

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief:


Clinically the disease may be silent, but characteristic radiological features may point to the diagnosis.


Clinically the disease may be silent, but characteristic radiological features may point to the diagnosis.

  • The increased iron stores in the organs involved, especially in the liver and pancreas, result in characteristic findings on unenhanced CT and a decreased signal intensity at MR imaging.
  • Haemochromatosis arthropathy includes degenerative osteoarthritis and chondrocalcinosis. The distribution of the arthropathy is distinctive, but not unique, frequently affecting the second and third metacarpophalangeal joints of the hand.
  • The arthropathy can therefore be an early clue as to the diagnosis of hemochromatosis. MRI algorithms are available at research institutions to quantify the amount of iron present in the liver, therefore reducing the necessity of a liver biopsy (see below) to measure the liver iron content.
  • As of May, 2007, this technology was only available at a few sites in the USA, but documented reports of radiographic measurements of liver iron content were becoming more common. [1]


  1. Tanner MA, He T, Westwood MA, Firmin DN, Pennell DJ (2006). "Multi-center validation of the transferability of the magnetic resonance T2* technique for the quantification of tissue iron". Haematologica. 91 (10): 1388–91. PMID 17018390.

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