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By Candido E. Rivera, MD, Assistant Professor, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Mayo Clinic

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Hemosiderosis is a term used for excessive accumulation of iron deposits called hemosiderin in the tissues.

The lungs and kidneys are often sites of hemosiderosis. Hemosiderosis can result from

  • Direct bleeding into the tissues that is followed by breakdown of red blood cells and release of iron to the tissues

  • Destruction of red blood cells within the blood vessels, leading to release of iron into the blood followed by accumulation of iron inside the kidneys as the kidneys filter waste from the blood.

Organs may be damaged by the iron deposits. The extent of the damage depends on how much iron is deposited in the organs. Some people have no damage at all, whereas others have some damage. Hemosiderosis caused by bleeding and red blood cell breakdown does not usually require treatment.

Hemosiderosis can also occur due to excessive iron absorption, but in that case, doctors call the condition hemochromatosis. Hemochromatosis more often requires treatment.