MR imaging features of liver involvement by Wilson disease in adult patients

Radiol Med. 2016 Jul;121(7):546-56. doi: 10.1007/s11547-016-0635-4. Epub 2016 Apr 22.


Objective: To describe the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) presentation of liver involvement in adult patients with Wilson disease (WD) and determine the most indicative appearance of this condition on MRI using a retrospective case-control study.

Materials and methods: MRI examinations of 23 adult patients with WD (14 men, 9 women; mean age = 40.4 years) were analyzed by two blinded observers and compared to those obtained in 23 patients with chronic viral hepatitis (14 men, 9 women, mean age = 40.4 years) who were matched for age, gender and severity of chronic liver disease. Images were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed with respect to imaging presentation. Comparisons were performed using univariate analysis.

Results: Honeycomb pattern of hepatic parenchyma was the most discriminating independent variable for the diagnosis of WD (odds ratio, 17.082; 95 % CI 2.092-139.497) (P = 0.0081) but had a sensitivity of 43 % (10/23; 95 % CI 23-66 %). Regular liver contours was the other variable that strongly correlated with the presence of liver involvement by WD (odds ratio, 11.939; 95 % CI 1.503-94.836) (P = 0.0190).

Conclusion: The honeycomb pattern is the most discriminating independent variable for the diagnosis of liver involvement by WD but has limited sensitivity. Familiarity with this finding may clarify the cause of diffuse hepatic parenchymal abnormalities in patients with unknown WD.

Keywords: Case–control studies; Chronic hepatitis; Hepatolenticular degeneration; Magnetic resonance imaging; Wilson disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Human / diagnostic imaging
  • Hepatolenticular Degeneration / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity