In conditions requiring repeated blood transfusion or where iron metabolism is abnormal, heart failure may result from accumulation of iron in the heart (cardiac siderosis). Death due to heart failure from cardiac iron overload has accounted for considerable early mortality in β-thalassemia major. The ability to detect iron loading in the heart by cardiovascular magnetic resonance using T2* sequences has created an opportunity to intervene in the natural history of such conditions. However, effective and well tolerated therapy is required to remove iron from the heart. There are currently three approved commercially available iron chelators: deferoxamine, deferiprone and deferasirox. We review the high quality randomized controlled trials in this area for iron chelation therapy in the management of cardiac siderosis.
cardiac siderosis; iron; chelation trials; T2* imaging; thalassaemia
Pixel-wise T2* maps based on breath-held segmented image acquisition are prone to ghost artifacts in instances of poor breath-holding or cardiac arrhythmia. Single shot imaging is inherently immune to ghost type artifacts. We propose a free-breathing method based on respiratory motion corrected single shot imaging with averaging to improve the signal to noise ratio.
Images were acquired using a multi-echo gradient recalled echo sequence and T2* maps were calculated at each pixel by exponential fitting. For 40 subjects (2 cohorts), two acquisition protocols were compared: (1) a breath-held, segmented acquisition, and (2) a free-breathing, single-shot multiple repetition respiratory motion corrected average. T2* measurements in the interventricular septum and liver were compared for the 2-methods in all studies with diagnostic image quality.
In cohort 1 (N = 28) with age 51.4 ± 17.6 (m ± SD) including 1 subject with severe myocardial iron overload, there were 8 non-diagnostic breath-held studies due to poor image quality resulting from ghost artifacts caused by respiratory motion or arrhythmias. In cohort 2 (N = 12) with age 30.9 ± 7.5 (m ± SD), including 7 subjects with severe myocardial iron overload and 4 subjects with mild iron overload, a single subject was unable to breath-hold. Free-breathing motion corrected T2* maps were of diagnostic quality in all 40 subjects. T2* measurements were in excellent agreement (In cohort #1, T2*FB = 0.95 x T2*BH + 0.41, r2 = 0.93, N = 39 measurements, and in cohort #2, T2*FB = 0.98 x T2*BH + 0.05, r2 > 0.99, N = 22 measurements).
A free-breathing approach to T2* mapping is demonstrated to produce consistently good quality maps in the presence of respiratory motion and arrhythmias.
T2*; R2*; Motion correction; Iron; Mapping; Hemochromatosis; Thalassemia; Cardiovascular magnetic resonance
We propose a set of simplified terms to describe applied Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (CMR) pulse sequence techniques in clinical reports, scientific articles and societal guidelines or recommendations. Rather than using various technical details in clinical reports, the description of the technical approach should be based on the purpose of the pulse sequence. In scientific papers or other technical work, this should be followed by a more detailed description of the pulse sequence and settings. The use of a unified set of widely understood terms would facilitate the communication between referring physicians and CMR readers by increasing the clarity of CMR reports and thus improve overall patient care. Applied in research articles, its use would facilitate non-expert readers’ understanding of the methodology used and its clinical meaning.
Cardiac diffusion tensor imaging (cDTI) measures the magnitudes and directions of intramyocardial water diffusion. Assuming the cross-myocyte components to be constrained by the laminar microstructures of myocardium, we hypothesized that cDTI at two cardiac phases might identify any abnormalities of laminar orientation and mobility in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).
We performed cDTI in vivo at 3 Tesla at end-systole and late diastole in 11 healthy controls and 11 patients with HCM, as well as late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) for detection of regional fibrosis.
Voxel-wise analysis of diffusion tensors relative to left ventricular coordinates showed expected transmural changes of myocardial helix-angle, with no significant differences between phases or between HCM and control groups. In controls, the angle of the second eigenvector of diffusion (E2A) relative to the local wall tangent plane was larger in systole than diastole, in accord with previously reported changes of laminar orientation. HCM hearts showed higher than normal global E2A in systole (63.9° vs 56.4° controls, p = 0.026) and markedly raised E2A in diastole (46.8° vs 24.0° controls, p < 0.001). In hypertrophic regions, E2A retained a high, systole-like angulation even in diastole, independent of LGE, while regions of normal wall thickness did not (LGE present 57.8°, p = 0.0028, LGE absent 54.8°, p = 0.0022 vs normal thickness 38.1°).
In healthy controls, the angles of cross-myocyte components of diffusion were consistent with previously reported transmural orientations of laminar microstructures and their changes with contraction. In HCM, especially in hypertrophic regions, they were consistent with hypercontraction in systole and failure of relaxation in diastole. Further investigation of this finding is required as previously postulated effects of strain might be a confounding factor.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12968-014-0087-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Diffusion tensor imaging; Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; Cardiovascular magnetic resonance; Myocardial architecture; Laminar structure; Sheet and shear layers; Diastolic dysfunction
MRI assessment of cardiac iron is particularly important for assessing transfusion-dependent anaemia patients. However, comparing the iron distribution from histology or bulk samples to MRI is not ideal. Non-destructive, high-resolution imaging of post-mortem samples offers the ability to examine iron distributions across large samples at resolutions closer to those used in MRI. The aim of this ex vivo case study was to compare synchrotron X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM) elemental iron maps with magnetic resonance transverse relaxation rate maps of cardiac tissue samples from an iron-loaded patient.
Two 5 mm thick slices of formalin fixed cardiac tissue from a Diamond Blackfan anaemia patient were imaged in a 1.5 T MR scanner. R2 and R2* transverse relaxation rate maps were generated for both slices using RF pulse recalled spin echo and gradient echo acquisition sequences. The tissue samples were then imaged at the Australian Synchrotron on the X-ray Fluorescence Microscopy beamline using a focussed incident X-ray beam of 18.74 keV and the Maia 384 detector. The event data were analyzed to produce elemental iron maps (uncalibrated) at 25 to 60 microns image resolution.
The R2 and R2* maps and profiles for both samples showed very similar macro-scale spatial patterns compared to the XFM iron distribution. Iron appeared to preferentially load into the lateral epicardium wall and there was a strong gradient of decreasing iron, R2 and R2* from the epicardium to the endocardium in the lateral wall of the left ventricle and to a lesser extent in the septum. On co-registered images XFM iron was more strongly correlated to R2* (r = 0.86) than R2 (r = 0.79). There was a strong linear relationship between R2* and R2 (r = 0.87).
The close qualitative and quantitative agreement between the synchrotron XFM iron maps and MR relaxometry maps indicates that iron is a significant determinant of R2 and R2* in these ex vivo samples. The R2 and R2* maps of human heart tissue give information on the spatial distribution of tissue iron deposits.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12968-014-0080-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Heart iron; Synchrotron X-ray fluorescence microscopy; Magnetic resonance imaging; Relaxometry; Diamond Blackfan anaemia
The assessment of myocardial iron using T2* cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) has been validated and calibrated, and is in clinical use. However, there is very limited data assessing the relaxation parameters T1 and T2 for measurement of human myocardial iron.
Twelve hearts were examined from transfusion-dependent patients: 11 with end-stage heart failure, either following death (n = 7) or cardiac transplantation (n = 4), and 1 heart from a patient who died from a stroke with no cardiac iron loading. Ex-vivo R1 and R2 measurements (R1 = 1/T1 and R2 = 1/T2) at 1.5 Tesla were compared with myocardial iron concentration measured using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy.
From a single myocardial slice in formalin which was repeatedly examined, a modest decrease in T2 was observed with time, from mean (±SD) 23.7 ± 0.93 ms at baseline (13 days after death and formalin fixation) to 18.5 ± 1.41 ms at day 566 (p < 0.001). Raw T2 values were therefore adjusted to correct for this fall over time. Myocardial R2 was correlated with iron concentration [Fe] (R2 0.566, p < 0.001), but the correlation was stronger between LnR2 and Ln[Fe] (R2 0.790, p < 0.001). The relation was [Fe] = 5081•(T2)-2.22 between T2 (ms) and myocardial iron (mg/g dry weight). Analysis of T1 proved challenging with a dichotomous distribution of T1, with very short T1 (mean 72.3 ± 25.8 ms) that was independent of iron concentration in all hearts stored in formalin for greater than 12 months. In the remaining hearts stored for <10 weeks prior to scanning, LnR1 and iron concentration were correlated but with marked scatter (R2 0.517, p < 0.001). A linear relationship was present between T1 and T2 in the hearts stored for a short period (R2 0.657, p < 0.001).
Myocardial T2 correlates well with myocardial iron concentration, which raises the possibility that T2 may provide additive information to T2* for patients with myocardial siderosis. However, ex-vivo T1 measurements are less reliable due to the severe chemical effects of formalin on T1 shortening, and therefore T1 calibration may only be practical from in-vivo human studies.
Cardiovascular magnetic resonance; Heart; Iron overload; Siderosis; Thalassaemia
Microvascular dysfunction in HCM has been associated with adverse clinical outcomes. Advances in quantitative cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) perfusion imaging now allow myocardial blood flow to be quantified at the pixel level. We applied these techniques to investigate the spectrum of microvascular dysfunction in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and to explore its relationship with fibrosis and wall thickness.
CMR perfusion imaging was undertaken during adenosine-induced hyperemia and again at rest in 35 patients together with late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) imaging. Myocardial blood flow (MBF) was quantified on a pixel-by-pixel basis from CMR perfusion images using a Fermi-constrained deconvolution algorithm. Regions-of-interest (ROI) in hypoperfused and hyperemic myocardium were identified from the MBF pixel maps. The myocardium was also divided into 16 AHA segments.
Resting MBF was significantly higher in the endocardium than in the epicardium (mean ± SD: 1.25 ± 0.35 ml/g/min versus 1.20 ± 0.35 ml/g/min, P < 0.001), a pattern that reversed with stress (2.00 ± 0.76 ml/g/min versus 2.36 ± 0.83 ml/g/min, P < 0.001). ROI analysis revealed 11 (31%) patients with stress MBF lower than resting values (1.05 ± 0.39 ml/g/min versus 1.22 ± 0.36 ml/g/min, P = 0.021). There was a significant negative association between hyperemic MBF and wall thickness (β = −0.047 ml/g/min per mm, 95% CI: −0.057 to −0.038, P < 0.001) and a significantly lower probability of fibrosis in a segment with increasing hyperemic MBF (odds ratio per ml/g/min: 0.086, 95% CI: 0.078 to 0.095, P = 0.003).
Pixel-wise quantitative CMR perfusion imaging identifies a subgroup of patients with HCM that have localised severe microvascular dysfunction which may give rise to myocardial ischemia.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; Perfusion; Cardiovascular magnetic resonance; Microvascular dysfunction; Sudden cardiac death
There is a need to standardise non-invasive measurements of liver iron concentrations (LIC) so clear inferences can be drawn about body iron levels that are associated with hepatic and extra-hepatic complications of iron overload. Since the first demonstration of an inverse relationship between biopsy LIC and liver magnetic resonance (MR) using a proof-of-concept T2* sequence, MR technology has advanced dramatically with a shorter minimum echo-time, closer inter-echo spacing and constant repetition time. These important advances allow more accurate calculation of liver T2* especially in patients with high LIC.
Here, we used an optimised liver T2* sequence calibrated against 50 liver biopsy samples on 25 patients with transfusional haemosiderosis using ordinary least squares linear regression, and assessed the method reproducibility in 96 scans over an LIC range up to 42 mg/g dry weight (dw) using Bland-Altman plots. Using mixed model linear regression we compared the new T2*-LIC with R2-LIC (Ferriscan) on 92 scans in 54 patients with transfusional haemosiderosis and examined method agreement using Bland-Altman approach.
Strong linear correlation between ln(T2*) and ln(LIC) led to the calibration equation LIC = 31.94(T2*)-1.014. This yielded LIC values approximately 2.2 times higher than the proof-of-concept T2* method. Comparing this new T2*-LIC with the R2-LIC (Ferriscan) technique in 92 scans, we observed a close relationship between the two methods for values up to 10 mg/g dw, however the method agreement was poor.
New calibration of T2* against liver biopsy estimates LIC in a reproducible way, correcting the proof-of-concept calibration by 2.2 times. Due to poor agreement, both methods should be used separately to diagnose or rule out liver iron overload in patients with increased ferritin.
Thalassemia; Clinical iron overload; Liver iron; Magnetic resonance; Liver biopsy; Calibration
Aberrant coronary arteries represent a diverse group of congenital disorders. Post-mortem studies reveal a high risk of exercise-related sudden cardiac death in those with an anomalous coronary artery originating from the opposite sinus of Valsalva (ACAOS) with an inter-arterial course. There is little documentation of lifetime history and long-term follow-up of patients with coronary artery anomalies.
Patients with anomalous coronary arteries undergoing cardiovascular magnetic resonance over a 15-year period were identified and classified by anatomy and course. Medical records were reviewed for major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE). Revascularisation or myocardial infarction counted only if occurring in the distribution of the anomalous artery.
Consecutive patients with coronary artery anomalies were retrospectively identified (n = 172). Median follow-up time was 4.3 years (IQR 2.5–7.8, maximum 15.6). 116 patients had ACAOS of which 64 (55%) had an inter-arterial course (IAC) and 52 (45%) did not. During follow up 110 ACAOS patients were alive, 5 died and 1 lost to follow-up.
ACAOS patients experienced 58 MACE events (5 cardiovascular deaths, 5 PCI, 24 CABG and 24 had myocardial infarction). 47 MACE events occurred in ACAOS with IAC and 11 in those without (p < 0.0001), the statistical difference driven by surgical revascularisation and myocardial infarction.
In life, patients with an anomalous coronary artery originating from the opposite sinus of Valsalva taking an IAC have higher rates of both myocardial infarction and surgical revascularisation during long-term follow up, compared to those without IAC.
Coronary vessel anomalies; Cardiovascular magnetic resonance; Prognosis
Diffusion tensor cardiac magnetic resonance (DT-CMR) enables probing of the microarchitecture of the myocardium, but the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and fractional anisotropy (FA) reported in healthy volunteers have been inconsistent. The aim of this study was to validate a stimulated-echo diffusion sequence using phantoms, and to assess the intercentre reproducibility of in-vivo diffusion measures using the sequence.
Methods and results
A stimulated-echo, cardiac-gated DT-CMR sequence with a reduced-field-of-view, single-shot EPI readout was used at two centres with 3 T MRI scanners. Four alkane phantoms with known diffusivities were scanned at a single centre using a stimulated echo sequence and a spin-echo Stejskal-Tanner diffusion sequence. The median (maximum, minimum) difference between the DT-CMR sequence and Stejskal-Tanner sequence was 0.01 (0.04, 0.0006) × 10-3 mm2/s (2%), and between the DT-CMR sequence and literature diffusivities was 0.02 (0.05, 0.006) × 10-3 mm2/s (4%).
The same ten healthy volunteers were scanned using the DT-CMR sequence at the two centres less than seven days apart. Average ADC and FA were calculated in a single mid-ventricular, short axis slice. Intercentre differences were tested for statistical significance at the p < 0.05 level using paired t-tests. The mean ADC ± standard deviation for all subjects averaged over both centres was 1.10 ± 0.06 × 10-3 mm2/s in systole and 1.20 ± 0.09 × 10-3 mm2/s in diastole; FA was 0.41 ± 0.04 in systole and 0.54 ± 0.03 in diastole. With similarly-drawn regions-of-interest, systolic ADC (difference 0.05 × 10-3 mm2/s), systolic FA (difference 0.003) and diastolic FA (difference 0.01) were not statistically significantly different between centres (p > 0.05), and only the diastolic ADC showed a statistically significant, but numerically small, difference of 0.07 × 10-3 mm2/s (p = 0.047). The intercentre, intrasubject coefficients of variance were: systolic ADC 7%, FA 6%; diastolic ADC 7%, FA 3%.
This is the first study to demonstrate the accuracy of a stimulated-echo DT-CMR sequence in phantoms, and demonstrates the feasibility of obtaining reproducible ADC and FA in healthy volunteers at separate centres with well-matched sequences and processing.
Cardiovascular magnetic resonance; Cardiac diffusion tensor imaging; Cardiac diffusion weighted imaging