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An unfortunate case of acquired hemochromatosis: a case report review of the clinical presentation, diagnosis, management, and prognosis

Authors Tariq A, Westra K, Santo A

Received 15 July 2016

Accepted for publication 23 September 2016

Published 8 December 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 385—387


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Ronald Prineas

Anam Tariq,1 Kevin Westra,2 Arben Santo3

1Department of Internal Medicine, Pinnacle Health Internal Medicine, 2Department of Gastroenterology, Harrisburg Gastroenterology, Harrisburg, PA, 3Department of Pathology, Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine-Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

Background: While blood transfusions are commonly used for prophylaxis and treatment for acute chest syndromes and strokes in sickle cell patients, accumulation of excess iron resulting in secondary hemochromatosis remains a rare disease. Chelation is the mainstay for preventing and treating iron overload to deter potential end-organ damages; it is rare when therapy fails.
Case report: A 52-year-old African American woman with chronic anemia secondary to sickle cell anemia and history of multiple blood transfusions presented with elevated serum ferritin (8000 ng/mL) and bilirubin (16.8 mg/dL). She had no previous personal or family history of liver disease. A magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) and a liver biopsy confirmed the secondary hemochromatosis with marked fibrosis and 4+ iron deposits, but since she was therapeutically on deferasirox, her treatment regimen involved only closer monitoring. Her hemochromatosis led to readmission within a year for rapid progression of cardiac and hepatic failure.
Conclusion: Since chronically transfused sickle cell patients are at a significantly higher risk of mortality due to the secondary hemochromatosis and end-stage organ damage, knowledge of prophylactic iron chelation is important. Minimizing unnecessary transfusions should be strongly emphasized to reduce the sequelae as iron burden remains a threat. The effectiveness of iron-chelating therapy is best monitored via periodic magnetic resonance imaging, liver transaminases, bilirubin, creatinine, ferritin, and cardiac function tests. Despite the prophylactic treatment and quarterly blood work, in this case the initial presentation did not correlate with the severity of end-stage liver failure. The damage was not discovered until proven by liver biopsy and MRCP, too late to deter the sequelae and the mortality exactly 1 year after diagnosis of the secondary hemochromatosis.

Keywords: secondary hemochromatosis, sickle cell anemia, deferasirox

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