Measurement of pancreatic volume by abdominal MRI: a validation study

PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55991. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055991. Epub 2013 Feb 13.


Objective: To develop abdominal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol to measure pancreatic volume in humans and to validate it in large animals.

Materials and methods: We performed abdominal MRI in eight mini-pigs using a clinical 3T MRI system. We used consecutive parallel abdominal slices, covering the entire pancreas to calculate pancreatic volume. Following MRI, animals were sacrificed, the pancreas was removed, and the volume of the pancreas was measured by water displacement. We used the same MRI protocol to measure pancreatic volume in 21 humans. To assess reproducibility of in vivo measurement we repeated MRI pancreas volume evaluation within 24 hours in additional five humans.

Results: In mini-pigs the measurements of pancreatic volume by MRI and by water displacement were almost identical (R(2) = 0.9867; p<0.0001). In humans the average pancreas volume was 72.7+/-4.5 ml, range from 35.0 to 105.5 ml. This result is in strong agreement with results of previous large postmortem and computed tomography (CT) studies. Repeated measurements of pancreatic volume in humans were highly reproducible. Pancreatic volume measured in vivo was negatively correlated with age, body fat mass, pancreatic TG levels, and visceral fat mass.

Conclusions: These initial results are highly encouraging and our protocol for pancreatic volume estimation in vivo may prove useful in obesity research to follow in vivo changes of pancreatic volume and structure during time course of obesity and type 2 diabetes development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Organ Size
  • Pancreas / anatomy & histology*
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Swine
  • Swine, Miniature