Marrow iron studies in erythrocytic disorders have long centered on the red blood cell and its precursors. Though invaluable in diagnosing pernicious anemia, aplastic anemia, or polycythemia vera, the studies rarely succeeded in identifying any other disorder of the red blood cell series. Clews for precise diagnosis had to be sought outside the boundaries of the bone marrow in data on serum iron, iron-binding capacity, and radioiron kinetics. These supplementary clews were not invariably reliable, nor were they always inexpensive or readily available.
There are indications that more comprehensive marrow studies can obviate the need to stray beyond their osseous confines for a correct diagnosis or a proper diagnostic orientation. Focusing on morphology of iron rather than that of the cell, investigators have discerned characteristic patterns in anemias, polycythemias, and even in iron storage disorders, such as hemochromatosis.
As early as 1948, Rath and Finch1 observed that, except for