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Radiographics. 2009 Oct;29(6):1725-48. doi: 10.1148/rg.296095515.

Hepatobiliary-specific MR contrast agents: role in imaging the liver and biliary tree.

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Division of Abdominal Imaging and Intervention, Massachusetts General Hospital, White 270, 55 Fruit St, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Hepatobiliary-specific contrast agents are one of several classes of contrast agents available for magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the liver. These agents are taken up by functioning hepatocytes and excreted in the bile, and their paramagnetic properties cause shortening of the longitudinal relaxation time (T1) of the liver and biliary tree. The three contrast agents that have been developed are mangafodipir trisodium (Mn-DPDP), gadobenate dimeglumine (Gd-BOPTA), and gadoxetic acid (Gd-EOB-DTPA). These three MR contrast agents vary in mode of administration and dose, mechanism of cellular uptake, degree of excretion through the biliary pathway, and imaging characteristics. In the liver, hepatobiliary-specific agents can be used to improve lesion detection, to characterize lesions as hepatocellular or nonhepatocellular, and to specifically characterize some hepatocellular lesions, notably focal nodular hyperplasia. Biliary excretion of these agents can be used to evaluate the anatomic structure and function of the biliary tree. In the future, hepatobiliary-specific contrast agents may have wider applications, such as grading of cirrhosis and quantification of liver function.

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