Assessment of hepatic fatty infiltration using spectral computed tomography imaging: a pilot study

J Comput Assist Tomogr. Mar-Apr 2013;37(2):134-41. doi: 10.1097/RCT.0b013e31827ddad3.


Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using monochromatic spectral computed tomography (CT) imaging to assess fatty infiltration in liver.

Materials: With spectral CT imaging, phantoms with known fat concentrations were studied for scanning parameter optimization, then 52 patients enrolled into 4 groups (healthy, mild, moderate, and severe fatty infiltration) received abdominal scanning. Based on reconstructed monochromatic images, hepatic attenuation was analyzed, and dual-energy subtraction imaging (DESI) was created for quantifying fat infiltration.

Results: Corresponding to various hepatic fat infiltrations, 4 characteristic CT attenuation curve patterns were described. In DESI images, only fat and fatty components appeared bright. For livers without abnormal fat deposition, isolated bright pixels were visualized (% area = 0.5% ± 0.3%). With hepatic fat accumulation increasing, more bright pixels appeared in subtraction images with percentages of total liver area involved in 2.5%, 6.7%, and 13.4% of mild, moderate, and severe fat infiltration cases, respectively (P < 0.05). The corresponding CT values were as follows: 1.33, 2.53, 8.69, and 16.4 Hounsfield units (P < 0.01), which correlated with the % DESI area values (r = 0.9811).

Conclusions: Spectral CT imaging is a promising method to quantitatively assess hepatic fat content and fatty infiltration with advantages compared with conventional CT imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Fatty Liver / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Pilot Projects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Subtraction Technique
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*