Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is a reliable noninvasive method for assessment of hepatic stiffness. Liver stiffness is known to be affected by elevated postprandial portal blood flow in patients with chronic liver disease. The goal of this study was to determine whether food intake affects liver stiffness in the absence of known liver disease. We evaluated 100 volunteers (35 men and 65 women) who met inclusion criteria. The subjects had two MRE examinations, first while fasting and then 30 min after a test meal. Fourteen subjects also had two additional MRE exams 1 h 30 min and 2 h 30 min after the meal. Liver stiffness was measured by placing the largest possible polygon ROIs on the four widest liver slices and calculated as a mean of stiffness values from each slice. The correlation of liver stiffness values before and after the meal was assessed using a paired t-test. To evaluate the relationship between the change in postprandial liver stiffness and fasting liver stiffness values, linear regression was performed. The liver stiffness values in the fasting state ranged from 1.84 to 2.82 kPa, with a mean of 2.30 ± 0.23 kPa (95% CI 2.25–2.34). At 30 min after the meal, liver stiffness values ranged from 2.12 to 3.50 kPa, with a mean of 2.70 ± 0.28 kPa (95% CI 2.64–2.75), demonstrating a systematic postprandial increase by 0.40 ± 0.23 kPa (17.7 ± 3.5%). Meal intake significantly increases liver stiffness in healthy individuals, which persists for at least 2 h 30 min. Patients should fast for 3–4 h before MRE examinations to avoid fibrosis overstaging due to postprandial liver stiffness augmentation.
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