Key words: Liver neoplasms
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract. Following the introduction of rapid, high-quality scan techniques and the development of new, tissue-specific contrast agents, the applications of MRI for abdominal imaging are experiencing unprecedented growth. This article examines the current status of liver and pancreatic MRI, highlighting technical and methodological approach, use of contrast agents, and main clinical applications. The MRI technique appears to be the ideal diagnostic tool for detection and characterization of benign and malignant liver neoplasms, and for evaluating tumor response after nonsurgical treatments. Dynamic imaging after bolus injection of a gadolinium chelate is currently a fundamental component of an MRI examination of the liver in many instances. Optimal dynamic scanning depends on the use of a multisection spoiled gradient-echo technique that allows one to image the entire region of interest during a single suspended respiration. Images are obtained during four phases relative to the injection of the contrast agent: precontrast, arterial (pre-sinusoidal), portal (sinusoidal), and delayed (extracellular) phase. Liver-specific contrast agents, including hepatobiliary agents and reticuloendothelial system-targeted iron oxide particles, however, may offer advantages over gadolinium chelates in some clinical settings. Computed tomography is still preferred to MRI for imaging the pancreas. However, state-of-the-art MRI may currently be at least as accurate as spiral CT for depiction of inflammatory and neoplastic pancreatic diseases. Moreover, MRI has the advantage of allowing simultaneous investigation of the biliary tree, owing to cholangiopancreatography techniques. Hence, a comprehensive assessment of most pancreatic diseases can be achieved with a single examination.
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