Complex confounder-corrected R2* mapping for liver iron quantification with MRI

Diego Hernando, Rachel J. Cook, Naila Qazi, Colin A. Longhurst, Carol A. Diamond, Scott B. Reeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objectives: MRI-based R2* mapping may enable reliable and rapid quantification of liver iron concentration (LIC). However, the performance and reproducibility of R2* across acquisition protocols remain unknown. Therefore, the objective of this work was to evaluate the performance and reproducibility of complex confounder-corrected R2* across acquisition protocols, at both 1.5 T and 3.0 T. Methods: In this prospective study, 40 patients with suspected iron overload and 10 healthy controls were recruited with IRB approval and informed written consent and imaged at both 1.5 T and 3.0 T. For each subject, acquisitions included four different R2* mapping protocols at each field strength, and an FDA-approved R2-based method performed at 1.5 T as a reference for LIC. R2* maps were reconstructed from the complex data acquisitions including correction for noise effects and fat signal. For each subject, field strength, and R2* acquisition, R2* measurements were performed in each of the nine liver Couinaud segments and the spleen. R2* measurements were compared across protocols and field strength (1.5 T and 3.0 T), and R2* was calibrated to LIC for each acquisition and field strength. Results: R2* demonstrated high reproducibility across acquisition protocols (p > 0.05 for 96/108 pairwise comparisons across 2 field strengths and 9 liver segments, ICC > 0.91 for each field strength/segment combination) and high predictive ability (AUC > 0.95 for four clinically relevant LIC thresholds). Calibration of R2* to LIC was LIC = − 0.04 + 2.62 × 10−2 R2* at 1.5 T and LIC = 0.00 + 1.41 × 10−2 R2* at 3.0 T. Conclusions: Complex confounder-corrected R2* mapping enables LIC quantification with high reproducibility across acquisition protocols, at both 1.5 T and 3.0 T. Key Points: • Confounder-corrected R2* of the liver provides reproducible R2* across acquisition protocols, including different spatial resolutions, echo times, and slice orientations, at both 1.5 T and 3.0 T. • For all acquisition protocols, high correlation with R2-based liver iron concentration (LIC) quantification was observed. • The calibration between confounder-corrected R2* and LIC, at both 1.5 T and 3.0 T, is determined in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-275
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Biomarkers
  • Iron overload
  • Liver
  • Magnetic resonance imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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