A simple method based on atomic absorption spectrophotometry and using protein concentration as the reference standard was used for measuring the total tissue iron concentration in needle liver biopsy specimens from 47 patients with varying levels of body iron stores. The values obtained showed a close correlation over a wide range with measurements of total chelatable body iron stores. A comparison with the histochemical assessment of iron deposition showed that only those with grades 3 and 4 had significant increases in iron concentration which is in accord with other clinical observations in such patients. A liver biopsy can thus be of value in the quantitative determination of total body iron overload as well as in the diagnosis of underlying liver disease.
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