Application of Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Liver Biomechanics: A Systematic Review

Front Physiol. 2021 Sep 22:12:733393. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.733393. eCollection 2021.


MRI-based biomechanical studies can provide a deep understanding of the mechanisms governing liver function, its mechanical performance but also liver diseases. In addition, comprehensive modeling of the liver can help improve liver disease treatment. Furthermore, such studies demonstrate the beginning of an engineering-level approach to how the liver disease affects material properties and liver function. Aimed at researchers in the field of MRI-based liver simulation, research articles pertinent to MRI-based liver modeling were identified, reviewed, and summarized systematically. Various MRI applications for liver biomechanics are highlighted, and the limitations of different viscoelastic models used in magnetic resonance elastography are addressed. The clinical application of the simulations and the diseases studied are also discussed. Based on the developed questionnaire, the papers' quality was assessed, and of the 46 reviewed papers, 32 papers were determined to be of high-quality. Due to the lack of the suitable material models for different liver diseases studied by magnetic resonance elastography, researchers may consider the effect of liver diseases on constitutive models. In the future, research groups may incorporate various aspects of machine learning (ML) into constitutive models and MRI data extraction to further refine the study methodology. Moreover, researchers should strive for further reproducibility and rigorous model validation and verification.

Keywords: biomechanics; clinical application; constitutive model; elastography; liver; liver disease; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); viscoelastic.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review