Magnetic resonance imaging measurement of iron overload

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Purpose of review

To highlight recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging estimation of somatic iron overload. This review will discuss the need and principles of magnetic resonance imaging-based iron measurements, the validation of liver and cardiac iron measurements, and the key institutional requirements for implementation.

Recent findings

Magnetic resonance imaging assessment of liver and cardiac iron has achieved critical levels of availability, utility, and validity to serve as the primary endpoint of clinical trials. Calibration curves for the magnetic resonance imaging parameters R2 and R2* (or their reciprocals, T2 and T2*) have been developed for the liver and the heart. Interscanner variability for these techniques has proven to be on the order of 5–7%.


Magnetic resonance imaging assessment of tissue iron is becoming increasingly important in the management of transfusional iron load because it is noninvasive, relatively widely available and offers a window into presymptomatic organ dysfunction. The techniques are highly reproducible within and across machines and have been chemically validated in the liver and the heart. These techniques will become the standard of care as industry begins to support the acquisition and postprocessing software.

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