The efficacy of phlebotomy with a low iron diet in the management of pulmonary iron overload

Tomoko Fukuda, Fumiaki Kimura, Yoichi Watanabe, Tadasi Yoshino, Ikuro Kimura

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Numerous studies have shown that workers in ferriferous industries have an elevated risk of respiratory tract neoplasia and other airway diseases. Evidence is presented that iron is a carcinogenic and tissue toxic hazard as regarding the inhalation of ferriferous substances. Elimination of the inhaled iron and prevention from accumulation of iron in the lung seems to be very important. A 26-year-old man was admitted to our hospital complaining of right chest pain. He had worked as an arc welder for two years without a mask. A chest CT showed diffuse ground glass opacity in the bilateral lung fields. A transbronchial lung biopsy specimen showed numerous alveolar and interstitial iron-laden macrophages. A 200 ml phlebotomy was carried out biweekly in combination with a low iron diet (8 mg/day). When serum ferritin reached 20 ng/ml, phlebotomy was stopped. After that, serum ferritin level was kept at around 20 ng/ml with the low iron diet alone. A transbronchial lung biopsy was carried out again 7 months later and the specimen showed remarkable reduction in the number of iron-laden alveolar and interstitial macrophages. Phlebotomy in combination with a low iron diet might become a useful strategy in the management of pulmonary conditions associated with iron loading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-327
Number of pages5
Journal[Rinshō ketsueki] The Japanese journal of clinical hematology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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