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Can Automated 3-Dimensional Dixon-Based Methods Be Used in Patients With Liver Iron Overload?

PURPOSE: Accurate quantification of liver iron concentration (LIC) can be achieved via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Maps of liver T2*/R2* are provided by commercially available, vendor-provided, 3-dimensional (3D) multiecho Dixon sequences and allow automated, inline postprocessing, which removes the need for manual curve fitting associated with conventional 2-dimensional (2D) gradient echo (GRE)-based postprocessing. The main goal of our study was to investigate the relationship among LIC estimates generated by 3D multiecho Dixon sequence to values generated by 2D GRE-based R2* relaxometry as the reference standard.

METHODS: A retrospective review of patients who had undergone MRI scans for estimation of LIC with conventional T2* relaxometry and 3D multiecho Dixon sequences was performed. A 1.5 T scanner was used to acquire the magnetic resonance studies. Acquisition of standard multislice multiecho T2*-based sequences was performed, and R2* values with corresponding LIC were estimated. The comparison between R2* and corresponding LIC estimates obtained by the 2 methods was analyzed via the correlation coefficients and Bland-Altman difference plots.

RESULTS: This study included 104 patients (51 male and 53 female patients) with 158 MRI scans. The mean age of the patients at the time of scan was 15.2 (SD, 8.8) years. There was a very strong correlation between the 2 LIC estimation methods for LIC values up to 3.2 mg/g (LIC quantitative multiecho Dixon [qDixon; from region of interest R2*] vs LIC GRE [in-house]: r = 0.83, P < 0.01; LIC qDixon [from segmentation volume R2*] vs LIC GRE [in-house]: r = 0.92, P < 0.01); and very weak correlation between the 2 methods at liver iron levels >7 mg/g.

CONCLUSION: Three-dimensional-based multiecho Dixon technique can accurately measure LIC up to 7 mg/g and has the potential to replace 2D GRE-based relaxometry methods.

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