Magnetic Resonance Elastography in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

A recent study (Hepatolology 2014; 60: 1920-8) shows that magnetic resonance (MR) elastography can be an accurate noninvasive tool to assess liver fibrosis.

Background: Assessing severity of liver fibrosis provides important prognostic information in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); however, these patients are often obese which decreases the success of transient elastography.  In addition, high hepatic fat content may alter the results of transient elastography.  Hence, an alternative noninvasive technique is desirable.

Design: Prospective study with 117 consecutive patients with biopsy-proven NAFLD who also underwent 2D-MR elastography between 2011-2013.


  • Fibrosis stage: stage 0 n=43, stage 1 n=39, stage 2 n=13, stage 3 n=12, stage 4 n=10.
  • MR elastography identified stage 3-4 with an accuracy of 0.92, with little overlap between advanced (F3-4) and non-advanced (F0-2) values.  The specificity, sensitivity, positive/negative predictive values, and cutoff values are detailed in Table 2.
  • Figure 3 provides a cool picture demonstrating the different MR elastography stiffness heat maps correlated with liver fibrosis. Link to similar web-based image from Siemens.

Bottomline: This technology allows a noninvasive measure of liver fibrosis in NAFLD patients and will probably be of use in other liver conditions.  Given the fact that a liver biopsy is more risky and often expensive, this technology and other noninvasive markers of advanced liver disease will be important tools.

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