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New diagnostic technique to detect liver fibrosis

New method clearer than biopsy alone

OnMedica Staff

Tuesday, 04 November 2008

Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) can accurately measure the extent and severity of hepatic fibrosis, US researchers have announced during ‘Liver Week 2008’ – the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. 

Results of a study designed to assess the performance of MRE from the Mayo Clinic and Foundation in Rochester, Minnesota, presented by principal investigator Dr. Jayant A. Talwalker, showed that MRE is accurate in detecting fibrosis caused by a broad spectrum of liver diseases.

The study involved 113 patients who had had liver biopsies within the previous year. MRE was performed and liver stiffness measured in all subjects.

Etiology of disease was non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in 42%, hepatitis C virus infection in 24%, primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) in 7%, primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) in 6% and alcoholic liver disease in 3%.

There was no fibrosis visible in 20% of patients, stage I fibrosis was found in 22%, stage II fibrosis in 13%, stage III in fibrosis in 13% and stage IV fibrosis was found in 28% of patients.

"Hepatic stiffness increased systematically with fibrosis stage," Dr. Talwalker noted.

"MRE shows a bigger picture [of the liver] than biopsy," he said. "Early fibrosis, especially, is a patchy disease. The biopsy can greatly underestimate or overestimate disease, depending on whether or not the biopsy takes tissue from a fibrotic area. Biopsy is restricted to the right lobe," he added, "MRE visualizes the whole liver."

"MRE can guide treatment decisions," concluded the Mayo Clinic investigators.

Reuters Health

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