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Scand J Gastroenterol. 2005 Jan;40(1):76-82.

Non-invasive diagnosis of liver cirrhosis: magnetic resonance imaging presents special features.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.



Liver cirrhosis and its complications constitute a daily clinical challenge. The diagnosis of cirrhosis is traditionally established with the invasive method of liver biopsy. We undertook the present study in order to investigate the sensitivity and specificity of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in diagnosing cirrhosis.


A total of 56 patients were included in our retrospective study. The liver cirrhosis group comprised 30 patients and the control group 26 patients. All cases were histologically verified. A 1.5T MRI unit was used. Twelve radiological features of cirrhosis (enlargement of segment one, narrowing of hepatic veins, enlargement of spleen, fibrosis, nodular liver surface, ascites, regenerative nodules, enlargement of hilar periportal space, atrophy of right lobe, portosystemic collaterals, expanded gallbladder fossa, iron depositions) and tumour-load were evaluated by consensus reading. The ratio between segment one and right lobe was measured and the livers were classified as cirrhotic or non-cirrhotic. The chi2-test and t-test were used to indicate statistical difference.


The sensitivity of MRI in diagnosing liver cirrhosis was 87% and the specificity 92%. The most characteristic MRI features were enlargement of segment one (83%), narrowing of hepatic veins (83%), signs of portal hypertension (77%), fibrosis (77%), and nodular liver margin (67%). There were statistical differences in all MRI signs between the cirrhosis and control groups. The ratio between segment one and right lobe also showed statistical significance between the two groups. All occult hepatocellular carcinomas were detected in the cirrhosis group.


MRI has high sensitivity and specificity in the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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