Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is a method of choice for assessing vascular patency and parenchymal iron overload. During the course of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), it is clinically relevant to differentiate abdominal vein thrombosis from hemolytic attacks. Furthermore, the study of the parenchymal MR signal intensity adds informations about the iron storage in kidneys, liver, and spleen. Twelve PNH patients had 14 MR examinations of the abdomen with spin-echo T1- and T2-weighted images and flow-sensitive gradient echo images. Vessels patency and parenchymal signal abnormalities--either focal or diffuse--were assessed. MR imaging showed acute complications including hepatic vein obstruction in five patients, portal vein thrombosis in two patients, splenic infarct in one patient. In one patient treated with androgens, hepatocellular adenomas were shown. Parenchymal iron overload was present in the renal cortex of eleven patients with previous hemolytic attacks. On the first MR study of the remaining patient with an acute abdominal pain showing PNH, no iron overload was present in the renal cortex. Follow-up MR imaging showed the onset of renal cortex iron overload related to multiple hemolytic attacks. Despite the fact that all our patients were transfused, normal signal intensity of both liver and spleen was observed in three of them. MR imaging is particularly helpful for the diagnosis of abdominal complications of PNH.

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