Indexed on: 01 Jun '67Published on: 01 Jun '67Published in: Klinische Wochenschrift
Already for 40 years there is considerable interest in the availability of a quantitative, sensitive, reliable and easy to perform method for the measurement of the intestinal iron absorption in man. Chemical balance studies are to laborious and time-consuming, whereas “postabsorption serum iron concentration curves” never permit quantitative results and conclusions. The measurement of the incorporation of the absorbed radioiron into erythrocyte hemoglobin can under certain precautions give reliable results, requires however to much time and labour and also radioactivity as a quantitative screening test. The faecal excretion measurement of the unabsorbed radioiron depends on the perfect cooperation of the patients and gives therefore mostly unreliable results.A reliable, sensitive and quantitative determination of the intestinal59Fe-absorption in medical research and clinical diagnosis is however possible by the measurement of the whole body retention of the absorbed59Fe. If this59Fe-absorption-whole body-retention test is performed within a large volume radioactivity detector with liquid organic scintillators and a 4π-detector geometry only a minimum counting time (300 seconds) and extremely small amounts of radioactivity (0.05–0.10 µC59Fe) are required.The application of the older, less reliable or only qualitative methods for the assay of iron absorption has resulted in some results and interpretations which are not any longer reproducable and/or acceptable in the light of recent studies of iron absorption and metabolism performed with the59Fe-absorption whole body-retention test.The59Fe-absorption-whole body-retention test has been used as a fast and simple screening test for the diagnosis of the so called “pre-latent” iron deficiency, characterized by still normal serum iron levels but already considerably reduced whole body iron stores which cause an increased intestinal iron absorption. The “pre-latent” iron deficiency is the most frequent deficiency in man and was found in 45% of male blood donors, 34% of unselected menstruating women and even more often during pregnancy.