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Novel Imaging Techniques Detect Liver Fibrosis

Emerging MRI technology could supplant need for repeat liver biopsies

TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Several novel magnetic resonance (MR) imaging techniques show promise in assessing liver fibrosis, which may ultimately reduce the need for liver biopsy, the current gold standard for detecting and monitoring liver fibrosis, according to an article published in the January issue of Hepatology.

In their report, Jayant A. Talwalker, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues review the limitations of current methods for detecting hepatic fibrosis and discuss novel MR-based techniques.

Contrast-enhanced MR imaging, diffusion-weighted MR imaging, MR spectroscopy, and MR elastography all show promise in assessing liver fibrosis. However, existing studies of these methods are limited by small numbers of patients and lack of independent assessment of test results. High-quality diagnostic accuracy studies and data on cost-effectiveness are required to validate their clinical use.

"While the number of patients screened for hepatic fibrosis may increase using MR imaging, proof will be required that early detection and intervention can reduce morbidity and resource utilization associated with the clinical sequelae of advanced disease. This is particularly important in patients with advanced fibrosis where surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma could also be performed assuming its value is established in clinical trial settings," the authors conclude.

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