Quantitative assessment of liver fat with magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy

Authors

  • Scott B. Reeder MD, PhD,

    1. Liver Imaging Research Program, Departments of Radiology, Medical Physics, Biomedical Engineering and Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin USA
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  • Irene Cruite MD,

    1. Liver Imaging Group, Department of Radiology, University of California San Diego, California USA
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  • Gavin Hamilton PhD,

    1. Liver Imaging Group, Department of Radiology, University of California San Diego, California USA
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  • Claude B. Sirlin MD

    Corresponding author
    1. Liver Imaging Group, Department of Radiology, University of California San Diego, California USA
    • Liver Imaging Group, Department of Radiology, University of California, San Diego, 408 Dickinson Street, San Diego, CA 92103-8226
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Abstract

Hepatic steatosis is characterized by abnormal and excessive accumulation of lipids within hepatocytes. It is an important feature of diffuse liver disease, and the histological hallmark of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Other conditions associated with steatosis include alcoholic liver disease, viral hepatitis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and genetic lipodystrophies, cystic fibrosis liver disease, and hepatotoxicity from various therapeutic agents. Liver biopsy, the current clinical gold standard for assessment of liver fat, is invasive and has sampling errors, and is not optimal for screening, monitoring, clinical decision-making, or well suited for many types of research studies. Noninvasive methods that accurately and objectively quantify liver fat are needed. Ultrasound (US) and computed tomography (CT) can be used to assess liver fat but have limited accuracy as well as other limitations. Magnetic resonance (MR) techniques can decompose the liver signal into its fat and water signal components and therefore assess liver fat more directly than CT or US. Most MR techniques measure the signal fat-fraction (the fraction of the liver MR signal attributable to liver fat), which may be confounded by numerous technical and biological factors and may not reliably reflect fat content. By addressing the factors that confound the signal fat-fraction, advanced MR techniques measure the proton density fat-fraction (the fraction of the liver proton density attributable to liver fat), which is a fundamental tissue property and a direct measure of liver fat content. These advanced techniques show promise for accurate fat quantification and are likely to be commercially available soon. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2011;. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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