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Transplantation. 2001 Nov 15;72(9):1527-33.

Single imaging modality evaluation of living donors in liver transplantation: magnetic resonance imaging.

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Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 123 Ta-Pei Road, Niao-Sung, Kaohsiung 83305, Taiwan.



Liver graft size, anatomy of the bile duct and the vascular inflow and outflow are essential for living related liver transplantation (LRLT). Preoperative delineation of those variations that would change the operative procedure to achieve a successful result especially in an emergency condition.


Our aim was to develop a rapid and noninvasive imaging diagnostic method for the detection of anatomical variants that is mandatory for a safe operation when selecting potential liver transplant living donors. We used a different magnetic resonance (MR) imaging technique, which enabled to us to exploit the anatomical landmark of the liver, signal enhancement of blood flow in the abdomen, and the intrahepatic biliary routes inside the liver. Then, with the help of Advantage Window workstation reconstruction, the reconstructed single vascular or biliary systems were displaced in a three-dimensional fashion and the whole examination finished within 30 min.


Modification of the standard MR technique was performed on a superconductive 1.5T whole body image scanner, MR arteriogaphy, venography, and cholangiography with three-dimensional reconstruction in evaluating the anatomy of the hepatic arteries, hepatic veins, portal venous system, bile ducts, and liver size in potential liver transplant living donors. These anatomical structures were compared with traditional imaging methods.


In all 38 cases, as well as delineation of the portal vein detail to the segmental level was satisfactorily obtained in this MR study. The images were well displayed in a three-dimensional fashion, which had good correlation with images from traditional imaging modalities and operative findings. In 86.8% cases, the MR arteriography was well matched with the celiac angiography. Of those 17 operative cases, estimation of liver volume was well correlated with the liver graft within 3.9-12.5% variation. In the major hepatic vein, we obtained 100% accuracy and 88.2% in the minor branches. Of 12 donors received intraoperative cholangiography during liver donation, good correlation of biliary anatomy was achieved. One donor was excluded from graft donation due to the complicated arterial supply to the left liver. According to the anatomical variation, surgical procedures in graft harvesting and anastomosis were readjusted and no major complications were found in those donors and all recipients survived after liver transplantation.


MR volumetry, venography, angiography, and cholangiography with three-dimensional reconstruction is sufficient for all major imaging evaluation. It may replace the traditional conventional catheter angiography, computed tomography, sonography and endoscopic retrograde cholangiography as a single investigation in the evaluation of the potential liver transplant donors. Angiography is only valuable in suboptimal cases and intraoperative cholangiography is only performed in biliary ductile variants.

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