Accurate simultaneous quantification of liver steatosis and iron overload in diffuse liver diseases with MRI
Diffuse liver diseases have a definitive radiological importance due to the ability of MR imaging to demonstrate abnormalities before the patient is symptomatic or the liver damage is advanced. Biopsy procedures are invasive, may lead to complications and have a sample bias. Imaging biomarkers target to fat, water, and iron tissue concentrations may be considered as hepatic virtual biopsies. There is a need to identify a rapid and practicable method to accurately quantify liver steatosis, differentiate steatohepatitis from simple steatosis, grade the necroinflammatory activity, calculate the liver iron burden and monitor overload progression. MR is used in the evaluation of diffuse liver disorders with accurate approaches such as the use of chemical shift, Dixon vector analysis, turbo spin echo fat suppression, and T2* gradient echo techniques. These methods are influenced by some factors like proportional ambiguity, T1 and T2* effects on signal decay, adding a significant bias in the combined fat–water–iron quantification. A GRE multi-echo chemical shift sequence was configured to independently calculate fat, water, and iron parametric liver images. It is now necessary to conduct a pilot project in order to validate this method in a group of subjects without and with different grades of fat, water, and iron liver changes.