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Radiographics. 2009 Oct;29(6):1615-35. doi: 10.1148/rg.296095512.

MR imaging of liver fibrosis: current state of the art.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of California, San Diego Medical Center, University of California at San Diego, MR 3.0T Laboratory, 408 Dickinson St, San Diego, CA 92103, USA.


Chronic liver disease is a major public health problem worldwide. Liver fibrosis, a common feature of almost all causes of chronic liver disease, involves the accumulation of collagen, proteoglycans, and other macromolecules within the extracellular matrix. Fibrosis tends to progress, leading to hepatic dysfunction, portal hypertension, and ultimately cirrhosis. Liver biopsy, the standard of reference for diagnosing liver fibrosis, is invasive, costly, and subject to complications and sampling variability. These limitations make it unsuitable for diagnosis and longitudinal monitoring in the general population. Thus, development of a noninvasive, accurate, and reproducible test for diagnosis and monitoring of liver fibrosis would be of great value. Conventional cross-sectional imaging techniques have limited capability to demonstrate liver fibrosis. In clinical practice, imaging studies are usually reserved for evaluation of the presence of portal hypertension or hepatocellular carcinoma in cases that have progressed to cirrhosis. In response to the rising prevalence of chronic liver diseases in Western nations, a number of imaging-based methods including ultrasonography-based transient elastography, computed tomography-based texture analysis, and diverse magnetic resonance (MR) imaging-based techniques have been proposed for noninvasive diagnosis and grading of hepatic fibrosis across its entire spectrum of severity. State-of-the-art MR imaging-based techniques in current practice and in development for noninvasive assessment of liver fibrosis include conventional contrast material-enhanced MR imaging, double contrast-enhanced MR imaging, MR elastography, diffusion-weighted imaging, and MR perfusion imaging.

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