45 consecutive patients with chronic alcohol abuse up to the day before admission were examined to determine to what extent the investigation of bone marrow smears is suitable for recording the abuse of alcohol and for monitoring the abstinence from alcohol. Using Prussian blue staining, disturbances of iron utilisation subdivided into four degrees of seriousness were detected in 91 % (41 out of 45) of subjects, whereas abnormal vacuolisation of red and/or white precursors occurred in only 38% and megaloblastic marrow in 27% of patients, respectively (p < 0.005). Abstaining from alcohol caused a significant decrease of sideroachrestic signs (p < 0.005) within a few days.

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