Tomoelastography of the abdomen: Tissue mechanical properties of the liver, spleen, kidney, and pancreas from single MR elastography scans at different hydration states

Magn Reson Med. 2017 Sep;78(3):976-983. doi: 10.1002/mrm.26484. Epub 2016 Oct 3.


Purpose: To develop a compact magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) protocol for abdomen and to investigate the effect of water uptake on tissue stiffness in the liver, spleen, kidney, and pancreas.

Methods: Nine asymptomatic volunteers were investigated by MRE before and after 1 liter water uptake. Shear-wave excitation at four frequencies was transferred to the abdomen from anterior and posterior directions using pressurized air drivers. Tomographic representations of shear-wave speed were produced by analysis of multifrequency wave numbers in axial and coronal images acquired within four breath-holds or under free breathing, respectively.

Results: Pre and post water, stiffness of the spleen (pre/post: 2.20 ± 0.10/2.06 ± 0.18 m/s) and kidney (pre/post: 1.93 ± 0.22/1.97 ± 0.23 m/s) was higher than in the liver (pre/post: 1.36 ± 0.10/1.38 ± 0.13 m/s) and pancreas (pre/post: 1.20 ± 0.12/1.20 ± 0.08 m/s), all P < 0.01. Accounting for four drive frequencies, water drinking only changed the splenic stiffness (-6%, P = 0.03), whereas in the frequency range from 50 to 60 Hz the effect became significant also in the pancreas (-6%, P = 0.04) and liver (+3%, P = 0.03). Elastograms of the kidney in coronal view clearly depicted higher stiffness in cortex than in medulla.

Conclusion: Tomoelastography reveals sensitivity of tissue mechanical properties to the hydration state of multiple abdominal organs within one scan and in unprecedented resolution of anatomical details. Magn Reson Med 78:976-983, 2017. © 2016 International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

Keywords: abdomen; blood flow; magnetic resonance elastography; perfusion; tomoelastography; water uptake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adult
  • Body Water / diagnostic imaging*
  • Digestive System / diagnostic imaging
  • Drinking
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Regional Blood Flow