Quantitative cerebral water content mapping in hepatic encephalopathy

Neuroimage. 2008 Jul 1;41(3):706-17. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.02.057. Epub 2008 Mar 8.


There is increasing evidence that the pathophysiology of hepatic encephalopathy is tightly associated with low-grade cerebral oedema; however, no method has yet specifically and unambiguously confirmed this hypothesis in vivo. The current study describes the quantitative measurement of localised water content using MRI in a cohort of 38 patients suffering from hepatic encephalopathy. A significant global increase in cerebral water content was observed in white matter whereas water content in grey matter was globally unaffected. However, significant spatial variations in the water content distribution, especially in grey matter, were observed and were correlated with disease grade and critical flicker frequency. In addition, regions-of-interest were defined and a significant change in water content with disease grade was found in the frontal and occipital white matter, the globus pallidus, the anterior limb of the internal capsule and the putamen. No association of water content and HE grade was established for the occipital visual and frontal cortices, the thalamus, the posterior limb of the internal capsule, the caudate nucleus and the coronal white matter. In conclusion, the measurements presented here are the first direct and quantitative demonstration of the presence of low-grade cerebral oedema in patients with hepatic encephalopathy. Further, absolute changes in tissue water content were quantified for various brain regions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Edema / etiology*
  • Brain Edema / pathology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy / complications*
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy / pathology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged