The Importance of Cardiac T2* Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Monitoring Cardiac Siderosis in Thalassemia Major Patients

Tomography. 2021 Apr 18;7(2):130-138. doi: 10.3390/tomography7020012.


Objective: Cardiac T2* magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has recently attracted considerable attention as a non-invasive method for detecting iron overload in various organs in thalassemia major patients. This study aimed to identify the prevalence of cardiac siderosis in thalassemia major patients and evaluate cardiac T2* MRI for monitoring cardiac siderosis before and after patients receive iron chelation therapy and its relation to serum ferritin, left ventricular ejection fraction, and liver iron concentration. The information gathered would be used for the direct monitoring, detection, and treatment of complications early on. Methods: A total of 119 thalassemia major patients were recruited in the present study. The cardiac T2* MRI was compared to serum ferritin levels, liver iron concentration (LIC), and left ventricular ejection fraction. All patients were classified into four groups based on their cardiac siderosis as having normal, marginal, mild to moderate, or severe cardiac iron overload. At the follow-up at years one, three, and five, the cardiac T2* MRI, LIC, serum ferritin, and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) were determined. Results: The prevalence of cardiac siderosis with cardiac T2* MRI ≤ 25 ms was 17.6% (n = 21). There was no correlation between cardiac T2* MRI and serum ferritin, liver iron concentration, and LVEF (p = 0.39, 0.54, and 0.09, respectively). During one year to five years' follow-up periods, cardiac T2* MRI (ms) in patients with severe cardiac siderosis had significantly improved from 8.5 ± 1.49 at baseline to 33.9 ± 1.9 at five years (p < 0.0001). Patients with severe, mild-moderate, marginal, and no cardiac siderosis had median LIC (mg/g dw) of 23.9 ± 6.5, 21.6 ± 13.3, 25.3 ± 7.7, and 19.9 ± 5.5 at baseline, respectively. Conclusions: This study supports the use of cardiac T2* MRI to monitor cardiac iron overload in patients who have had multiple blood transfusions. Early diagnosis and treatment of patients at risk of cardiac siderosis is a reasonable method of reducing the substantial cardiac mortality burden associated with myocardial siderosis. Cardiac T2* MRI is the best test that can identify at-risk patients who can be managed with optimization of their chelation therapy.

Keywords: Cardiac T2*; iron chelation therapy; iron overload; magnetic resonance imaging; thalassemia.

MeSH terms

  • Ferritins
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Siderosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Siderosis* / epidemiology
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Function, Left
  • beta-Thalassemia* / complications
  • beta-Thalassemia* / diagnostic imaging
  • beta-Thalassemia* / therapy


  • Ferritins
  • Iron