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Radiology. 1990 Mar;174(3 Pt 1):797-801.

Hepatic cirrhosis and hepatitis: MR imaging enhanced with superparamagnetic iron oxide.

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  • 1Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Unit, University Hospital, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.


Superparamagnetic iron oxide was applied as a reticuloendothelial contrast agent in the diagnosis of cirrhosis and hepatitis in seven patients. Three patients had compensated cirrhosis, and four had active hepatitis. T1- and T2-weighted spin-echo magnetic resonance images were obtained before and 1 hour after the administration of iron oxide. Eight patients without diffuse liver disease served as a control group. Normal liver tissue showed a 75% +/- 9% reduction in signal intensity after the administration of iron oxide, and the liver appeared homogeneously hypointense. Cirrhotic liver tissue showed a smaller response (P less than .05) to iron oxide, with a 52% +/- 13% reduction in liver signal intensity. Inhomogeneous structures could be observed in enhanced images and are thought to represent fibrous bands or regenerating nodules. Liver tissue with active hepatitis showed a markedly reduced response to iron oxide (11% +/- 2%) (P less than .05), and the parenchyma appeared homogeneous. The authors conclude that the uptake of iron oxide particles is inhomogeneously altered in cirrhosis because of structural changes and homogeneously decreased in hepatitis because of functional changes of hepatic parenchyma.

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