OBJECTIVE. MR elastography (MRE) is an MRI-based technique for quantitatively assessing tissue stiffness by studying shear wave propagation through tissue. The goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that hepatic MRE performed before and after a meal will result in a postprandial increase in hepatic stiffness among patients with hepatic fibrosis because of transiently increased portal pressure. SUBJECTS AND METHODS. Twenty healthy volunteers and 25 patients with biopsy-proven hepatic fibrosis were evaluated. Preprandial MRE measurements were performed after overnight fasting. A liquid test meal was administered, and 30 minutes later a postprandial MRE acquisition was performed. Identical imaging parameters and analysis regions of interest were used for pre- and postprandial acquisitions. RESULTS. The results in the 20 subjects without liver disease showed a mean stiffness change of 0.16 ± 0.20 kPa (range, -0.12 to 0.78 kPa) or 8.08% ± 10.33% (range, -5.36% to 41.7%). The hepatic stiffness obtained in the 25 patients with hepatic fibrosis showed a statistically significant increase in postprandial liver stiffness, with mean augmentation of 0.89 ± 0.96 kPa (range, 0.17-4.15 kPa) or 21.24% ± 14.98% (range, 7.69%-63.3%). CONCLUSION. MRE-assessed hepatic stiffness elevation in patients with chronic liver disease has two major components: a static component reflecting structural change or fibrosis and a dynamic component reflecting portal pressure that can increase after a meal. These findings will provide motivation for further studies to determine the potential value of assessing postprandial hepatic stiffness augmentation for predicting the progression of fibrotic disease and the development of portal hypertension. The technique may also provide new insights into the natural history and pathophysiology of chronic liver disease.
- Hepatic stiffness
- MR elastography
- Postprandial augmentation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging