Feasibility of Intestinal MR Elastography in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2022 Mar;55(3):815-822. doi: 10.1002/jmri.27833. Epub 2021 Jul 12.


Background: While MR enterography allows detection of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the findings continue to be of limited use in guiding treatment-medication vs. surgery.

Purpose: To test the feasibility of MR elastography of the gut in healthy volunteers and IBD patients.

Study type: Prospective pilot.

Population: Forty subjects (healthy volunteers: n = 20, 37 ± 14 years, 10 women; IBD patients: n = 20 (ulcerative colitis n = 9, Crohn's disease n = 11), 41 ± 15 years, 11 women).

Field strength/sequence: Multifrequency MR elastography using a single-shot spin-echo echo planar imaging sequence at 1.5 T with drive frequencies of 40, 50, 60, and 70 Hz.

Assessment: Maps of shear-wave speed (SWS, in m/s) and loss angle (φ, in rad), representing stiffness and solid-fluid behavior, respectively, were generated using tomoelastography data processing. Histopathological analysis of surgical specimens was used as reference standard in patients.

Statistical tests: Unpaired t-test, one-way analysis of variance followed by Tukey post hoc analysis, Pearson's correlation coefficient and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) with 95%-confidence interval (CI). Significance level of 5%.

Results: MR elastography was feasible in all 40 subjects (100% technical success rate). SWS and φ were significantly increased in IBD by 21% and 20% (IBD: 1.45 ± 0.14 m/s and 0.78 ± 0.12 rad; healthy volunteers: 1.20 ± 0.14 m/s and 0.65 ± 0.06 rad), whereas no significant differences were found between ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease (P = 0.74 and 0.90, respectively). In a preliminary assessment, a high diagnostic accuracy in detecting IBD was suggested by an AUC of 0.90 (CI: 0.81-0.96) for SWS and 0.84 (CI: 0.71-0.95) for φ.

Data conclusion: In this pilot study, our results demonstrated the feasibility of MR elastography of the gut and showed an excellent diagnostic performance in predicting IBD.

Evidence level: 1 TECHNICAL EFFICACY: Stage 1.

Keywords: Crohn's disease; MR elastography; gut; inflammatory bowel disease; multifrequency MRE; ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colitis, Ulcerative*
  • Crohn Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques* / methods
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies