MRI techniques evolving towards better assessment of liver fibrosis

Jan 02, 2008

[B]They could potentially replace liver biopsy[/B]
MRI imagery is emerging as a non-invasive way to determine the existence and extent of hepatic fibrosis. It could eventually help the development of pharmacologic strategies to combat the condition. These findings are in the January issue of Hepatology, a journal published by John Wiley & Sons on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). The article is also available online at Wiley Interscience (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/hepatology).

Currently, the best way to assess hepatic fibrosis is liver biopsy; however, it is an invasive procedure that can cause serious side effects. Researchers have been studying less invasive techniques, such as blood tests and imaging strategies like ultrasound, but so far, they have not proven sensitive enough to detect the various stages of fibrosis.

Over the past decade, a number of technological advances have been made in magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the liver. Researchers led by Jayant Talwalkar of the Mayo Clinic, examined the current state of MR imaging and the studies that looked at its utility in detecting liver fibrosis.

They found that contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging have shown promise for detecting hepatic fibrosis, though they require further refinement.

But the technology that is showing the greatest promise is magnetic resonance elastography, which quantitatively assesses tissue stiffness. Recent studies have shown that MR elastography has high sensitivity and specificity in detecting fibrosis stages. “As with other techniques, efforts to standardize the equipment and techniques used for MR elastography should be pursued to maximize diagnostic accuracy and facilitate comparison of results in different settings,” the authors suggest. “Reproducibility appears good from initial studies but requires additional study for verification.”.

The authors emphasize that the design and conduct of high-quality diagnostic accuracy studies is essential for ongoing validation of these emerging non-invasive techniques for determining hepatic fibrosis. Most relevant studies to date have included small numbers of patients and lacked independent assessment, issues that should be addressed in future studies.

Once MRI techniques have become suitably advanced, patients will likely prefer them to liver biopsy. “While the number of patients screened for hepatic fibrosis may increase using MR imaging, proof will be required that early detection and intervention can reduce morbidity and resource utilization associated with the clinical sequelae of advanced disease,” the authors point out.

“The development of a reliable and valid non-invasive method to assess hepatic fibrosis could result in comparable or, perhaps, improved accuracy in terms of staging,” they conclude. “The emergence of MR imaging techniques (singly or in combination with other methods) could result in the performance of true functional hepatic imaging.”


Source: Wiley-Blackwell

Explore further: AbbVie shares sink after $21 bn deal for Pharmacyclics

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Using viruses to find the cellular Achilles heel

Jan 22, 2015

Back-to-back studies from researchers at the Gladstone Institutes have exposed new battle tactics employed by two deadly viruses: hepatitis C (HCV) and the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Published in the ...

Hepatitis C virus interference via hepcidin synthesis

Apr 12, 2010

Iron overload, a common feature of chronic liver disorders, has been linked with oxidative DNA damage, insulin resistance and liver steatosis, and with triggering of hepatic stellate cells thus inducing liver fibrosis. Recently, ...

Antifibrotic effects of green tea

Nov 18, 2009

Several studies have shown that lipid peroxidation stimulates collagen production in fibroblasts and hepatic stellate cells (HSC), and plays an important role in the development of liver fibrosis. Hepatoprotective effects ...

Recommended for you

US must respond to global health outbreaks, say bioethicists

Mar 05, 2015

Last summer, West Africa fell into the grip of a deadly outbreak of Ebola that has thus far taken the lives of more than 9,500 people. The fear swept up by the epidemic quickly jumped across the Atlantic and landed in the ...

Uganda on defensive over medical 'brain drain' uproar

Mar 03, 2015

Uganda's government on Tuesday hit back at mounting criticism of plans to 'export' over 200 health workers to the Caribbean, insisting it was only seeking to regulate an existing labour market and prevent abuses.

Seth Mnookin on vaccination and public health

Mar 02, 2015

Seth Mnookin, an assistant professor of science writing and associate director of MIT's Graduate Program in Science Writing, is the author of "The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy" ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.