Diagnostic performance of tomoelastography of the liver and spleen for staging hepatic fibrosis

Eur Radiol. 2020 Mar;30(3):1719-1729. doi: 10.1007/s00330-019-06471-7. Epub 2019 Nov 11.


Objectives: To determine the diagnostic performance, cut-off values, and optimal drive frequency range for staging hepatic fibrosis using tomoelastography by multifrequency MR elastography of the liver and spleen.

Methods: This prospective study consecutively enrolled a total of 61 subjects between June 2014 and April 2017: 45 patients with chronic liver disease and proven stage of fibrosis and 16 healthy volunteers. Tomoelastography was performed at 1.5 T using six drive frequencies from 35 to 60 Hz. Cut-off values and AUC were calculated. Shear wave speed (in m/s) of the liver and spleen was assessed separately and in combination as a surrogate of stiffness.

Results: For compound multifrequency processing of the liver, cut-off and AUC values by fibrosis stage were as follows: F1, 1.52 m/s and 0.89; F2, 1.55 m/s and 0.94; F3, 1.67 m/s and 0.98; and F4, 1.72 m/s and 0.98. Diagnostic performance of the best single drive frequencies (45 Hz, 55 Hz, 60 Hz) was similar (mean AUC = 0.95, respectively). Combined analysis of the liver and spleen slightly improved performance at 60 Hz in F4 patients (mean AUC = 0.97 vs. 0.95, p = 0.03). Full-field-of-view elastograms displayed not only the liver and spleen but also small anatomical structures including the pancreas and major vessels.

Conclusion: Tomoelastography provides full-field-of-view elastograms with unprecedented detail resolution and excellent diagnostic accuracy for staging hepatic fibrosis. Our analysis of single-frequency tomoelastography suggests that scan time can be further reduced in future studies, making tomoelastography easier to implement in clinical routine.

Key points: • Tomoelastography provides full-field-of-view elastograms of the abdomen with unprecedented detail resolution and excellent diagnostic accuracy for staging hepatic fibrosis. • Diagnostic performance of single-frequency tomoelastography at higher frequencies (45 Hz, 55 Hz, 60 Hz) and compound multifrequency processing are equivalent for staging hepatic fibrosis. • Combined assessment of hepatic and splenic stiffness slightly improves diagnostic performance for staging hepatic fibrosis.

Keywords: Elasticity imaging techniques; Fibrosis; Liver cirrhosis; Magnetic resonance imaging; Spleen.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adult
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques / methods*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spleen / diagnostic imaging*