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J Comput Assist Tomogr. 2013 Mar-Apr;37(2):134-41. doi: 10.1097/RCT.0b013e31827ddad3.

Assessment of hepatic fatty infiltration using spectral computed tomography imaging: a pilot study.

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Departments of Radiation Oncology and Radiology, Fudan University, Huadong Hospital, Shanghai, China.



The objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using monochromatic spectral computed tomography (CT) imaging to assess fatty infiltration in liver.


With spectral CT imaging, phantoms with known fat concentrations were studied for scanning parameter optimization, then 52 patients enrolled into 4 groups (healthy, mild, moderate, and severe fatty infiltration) received abdominal scanning. Based on reconstructed monochromatic images, hepatic attenuation was analyzed, and dual-energy subtraction imaging (DESI) was created for quantifying fat infiltration.


Corresponding to various hepatic fat infiltrations, 4 characteristic CT attenuation curve patterns were described. In DESI images, only fat and fatty components appeared bright. For livers without abnormal fat deposition, isolated bright pixels were visualized (% area = 0.5% ± 0.3%). With hepatic fat accumulation increasing, more bright pixels appeared in subtraction images with percentages of total liver area involved in 2.5%, 6.7%, and 13.4% of mild, moderate, and severe fat infiltration cases, respectively (P < 0.05). The corresponding CT values were as follows: 1.33, 2.53, 8.69, and 16.4 Hounsfield units (P < 0.01), which correlated with the % DESI area values (r = 0.9811).


Spectral CT imaging is a promising method to quantitatively assess hepatic fat content and fatty infiltration with advantages compared with conventional CT imaging.

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