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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 34  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 324-325  

Detection of extramedullary hematopoietic tissue in a patient with beta-thalassemia major on Tc99m-sestamibi parathyroid scintigraphy

1 Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital of Larissa, Thessaly, Greece
2 Department of Medical Physics, Medical School, University of Thessaly, Thessaly, Greece

Date of Web Publication23-Sep-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Varvara Valotassiou
Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital of Larissa, Mezourlo, Larissa 41110, Thessaly
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijnm.IJNM_115_19

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A 50-year-old man with beta-thalassemia major underwent Tc-99m sestamibi parathyroid scintigraphy due to elevated parathyroid hormone and calcium serum levels. Single-photon emission computed tomography imaging of neck and thorax revealed a parathyroid adenoma, as well as increased tracer uptake in a paraspinal region in the right hemithorax, where X-ray and computed tomography of the thorax had shown previously a mass compatible with extramedullary hematopoietic tissue.

Keywords: Extramedullary hematopoiesis, parathyroid scintigraphy, sestamibi, thalassemia

How to cite this article:
Valotassiou V, Angelidis G, Alexiou S, Psimadas D, Tsougos I, Georgoulias P. Detection of extramedullary hematopoietic tissue in a patient with beta-thalassemia major on Tc99m-sestamibi parathyroid scintigraphy. Indian J Nucl Med 2019;34:324-5

How to cite this URL:
Valotassiou V, Angelidis G, Alexiou S, Psimadas D, Tsougos I, Georgoulias P. Detection of extramedullary hematopoietic tissue in a patient with beta-thalassemia major on Tc99m-sestamibi parathyroid scintigraphy. Indian J Nucl Med [serial online] 2019 [cited 2023 Jan 27];34:324-5. Available from:

A 50-year-old male patient with a history of beta-thalassemia major was referred for dual-phase Tc-99m sestamibi scintigraphy due to elevated parathyroid hormone (108 pg/mL) and calcium serum (11.8 mg/dL) levels (normal ranges 14.5–87.1 pg/mL and 8.1–10.6 mg/dL, respectively). The patient was administered intravenously 740 MBq of Tc-99m sestamibi and underwent early (10 min postinjection) and delayed (2.5 h postinjection) static imaging of the neck and thorax on a dual-head gamma camera (Infinia, GE Healthcare) equipped with low-energy, high-resolution, parallel-hole collimators. Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging of the above regions was also performed using step-and-shoot mode (120 projections, 25 s/projection) on a 128 × 128 matrix. Both static and SPECT images revealed parathyroid adenoma inferior to the lower pole of the right thyroid lobe. Moreover, SPECT showed increased tracer uptake in a paraspinal region of the right hemithorax, as indicated in transverse and coronal images [Figure 1]a, arrows, corresponding to known (from previous chest X-ray and CT) extramedullary hematopoietic tissue [Figure 1]b, arrow].
Figure 1: Transverse and coronal Tc-99m sestamibi SPECT images of the thorax (a) showing increased tracer uptake in extramedullary hematopoietic tissue of the right hemithorax shown on CT (b)

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Beta-thalassemia is a hereditary blood disorder characterized by abnormalities in the synthesis of beta-chains of hemoglobin. There are three forms of thalassemia: minor, intermedia, and major. The last one causes severe anemia which requires regular transfusions.[1]

Extramedullary hematopoiesis (EMH) occurs when there is poor production or quality of blood elements as a result of various diseases such as myelofibrosis, diffuse osseous metastases, leukemia, and hemoglobinopathies such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia.[2] These conditions lead to compensatory mechanisms of hematopoiesis, which result in expansion of hematopoietic tissue outside the bone marrow. EMH occurs in up to 20% of patients with blood transfusion independence, such as those with thalassemia intermedia, while in patients with thalassemia major who are poly-transfused, the incidence is low, i.e. <1%.[3] The most commons sites of EMH are the paravertebral regions, the liver, and the spleen, while sites in other organs such as the thymus, kidneys, adrenal glands, lymph nodes, cranial and peripheral nerves, spinal canal, paranasal sinuses, nasopharynx, and breast have also been described.[4] The typical appearance of a paraspinal lesion on the chest X-ray/CT is a smoothly, well-demarcated paraspinal mass.[5]

Although the uptake of bone marrow radiotracers in extramedullary hematopoietic sites has been described,[6] the uptake of other agents, such as sestamibi, has rarely been reported.[7],[8] The uptake of a nonspecific, perfusion agent like sestamibi could be attributed to increased metabolic activity and perfusion as a result of robust hematopoiesis in cases of impaired production of blood elements.

In this case, EMH was found in beta-thalassemia major, where the incidence of EMH is remarkably lower compared with the intermedia form of the disease. Moreover, it was detected during sestamibi SPECT parathyroid scintigraphy, which highlights the importance of additional imaging and careful examination of other sites besides the organ or region of interest, as well as the information provided with the use of various radiotracers.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Galanello R, Origa R. Beta-thalassemia. Orphanet J Rare Dis 2010;5:11.  Back to cited text no. 1
Georgiades CS, Neyman EG, Francis IR, Sneider MB, Fishman EK. Typical and atypical presentations of extramedullary hemopoiesis. AJR Am J Roentgenol 2002;179:1239-43.  Back to cited text no. 2
Haidar R, Mhaidli H, Taher AT. Paraspinal extramedullary hematopoiesis in patients with thalassemia intermedia. Eur Spine J 2010;19:871-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sohawon D, Lau KK, Lau T, Bowden DK. Extra-medullary haematopoiesis: A pictorial review of its typical and atypical locations. J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol 2012;56:538-44.  Back to cited text no. 4
Berkmen YM, Zalta BA. Case 126: Extramedullary hematopoiesis. Radiology 2007;245:905-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
De Geeter F, Van Renterghem D. Scintigraphic diagnosis of intrathoracic extramedullary hematopoiesis in alcohol-related macrocytosis. J Nucl Med 1996;37:473-5.  Back to cited text no. 6
Villa G, Tommasi L, Colombo B, Balleari E. Medullary hyperplastic hematopoiesis in thalassemia: Incidental increased Tc-99m sestamibi bone marrow uptake. Clin Nucl Med 2005;30:135-6.  Back to cited text no. 7
Niederkohr RD, Chiu E, Nielsen KR, Maclean M. Extramedullary hematopoiesis within paravertebral masses demonstrating prominent sestamibi and thallium uptake. Clin Nucl Med 2009;34:506-7.  Back to cited text no. 8


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