Utility of Transient Elastography in Estimating Hepatic Iron Concentration in Comparison to Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Patients Who are Transfusion-Dependent: A Canadian Center Experience

2017 Hemoglobin 41;1 (21-25)

Transfusion-dependent hereditary anemias such as beta-thalassemia (beta-thal), predispose patients to iron overload and its numerous clinical sequelae. Accurate assessment of overall iron status and prompt initiation of chelation therapy to prevent irreversible end-organ damage can be achieved using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure liver iron concentration (LIC) as a surrogate marker of total body iron; however, its access may be associated with long wait times and delay in treatment. We report an observational cohort study at a single tertiary care center assessing the theoretical role of transient elastography (TE), which measures liver stiffness, in estimating LIC compared to other established diagnostic measures. While regression analyses confirm a moderate correlation between LIC per R2 MRI and serum ferritin level (pooled estimate of correlation = 0.55), there was no significant correlation between TE reading and LIC based on R2 MRI (pooled estimate of correlation = -0.06), and only a weak correlation was observed with serum ferritin level (pooled estimate of correlation = 0.45). These results suggest TE may not be sensitive enough to detect subtle changes in the hepatic parenchymal stiffness associated with liver iron deposition.