Quantification of Liver Iron Overload with MRI: Review and Guidelines from the ESGAR and SAR

Radiology. 2023 Apr;307(1):e221856. doi: 10.1148/radiol.221856. Epub 2023 Feb 21.


Accumulation of excess iron in the body, or systemic iron overload, results from a variety of causes. The concentration of iron in the liver is linearly related to the total body iron stores and, for this reason, quantification of liver iron concentration (LIC) is widely regarded as the best surrogate to assess total body iron. Historically assessed using biopsy, there is a clear need for noninvasive quantitative imaging biomarkers of LIC. MRI is highly sensitive to the presence of tissue iron and has been increasingly adopted as a noninvasive alternative to biopsy for detection, severity grading, and treatment monitoring in patients with known or suspected iron overload. Multiple MRI strategies have been developed in the past 2 decades, based on both gradient-echo and spin-echo imaging, including signal intensity ratio and relaxometry strategies. However, there is a general lack of consensus regarding the appropriate use of these methods. The overall goal of this article is to summarize the current state of the art in the clinical use of MRI to quantify liver iron content and to assess the overall level of evidence of these various methods. Based on this summary, expert consensus panel recommendations on best practices for MRI-based quantification of liver iron are provided.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Humans
  • Iron
  • Iron Overload* / diagnostic imaging
  • Iron Overload* / pathology
  • Liver* / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver* / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods


  • Iron