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Pituitary Iron Deposition in Beta Thalassemia

Dr. Ellen Butensky at Children’s Hospital & Research Center at Oakland is primarily responsible for this study which examines iron deposition in the pituitary gland (a gland in the brain that is responsible for the release of many hormones). The amount of iron in the pituitary gland will be measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on one occasion. A total of 10 participants will be included in this study: 5 who have pituitary dysfunction and 5 who have normal pituitary function. Pituitary iron will be compared between these 2 groups to see if there is a difference.

Who can participate?

    Inclusion Criteria
  • Thalassemia patients who are chronically transfused or who have a high liver iron concentration or high serum ferritin.
  • Patients who are over the age of 10 years
  • Five of the participants must have pituitary dysfunction defined as either low hormone levels or current treatment with hormones (testosterone, estrogen, growth hormone, thyroxine).
    Exclusion Criteria
  • Patients who are pregnant
  • Patients who are ineligible for an MRI due to incompatible metal implant(s), pacemaker, claustrophobia
  • Patients who are too ill to travel
What does the study involve?
  • Participants will come to Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland once for an MRI of the brain.
  • Participants will be asked a few questions (<5 minutes) about current medicines, transfusion history and chelation history.
  • Previous test results of liver biopsies, serum ferritin and hormone tests will be taken from the medical chart.
  • MRI’s can be scheduled on most Saturdays or the 1st Monday of every month.
  • The brain MRI can be done on the same day as another MRI.
For more information, please contact Ellen Butensky, PhD, PNP at Children's Hospital & Research Center at Oakland, 510-428-3885, ext. 7386 or ask your clinical care provider.

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