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Mayo Clinic's new imaging technology accurately identifies a broad spectrum of liver disease
Date:11/1/2008

ntified with 97 percent accuracy.

"Using MRE, we can confidently avoid liver biopsies for patients with no evidence of advanced fibrosis, as well as for patients with cirrhosis," says Dr. Talwalkar.

Liver biopsies, conducted by extracting tissue samples with a needle, can underestimate the degree of hepatic fibrosis about 20 to 30 percent of the time because of the patchy distribution of fibrosis that occurs in the liver. Another drawback is that since liver biopsy is invasive, patients may be reluctant to have a biopsy performed and sometimes delay the procedure when liver disease is first suspected, says Dr. Talwalkar.

"Our goal in hepatology is to be able to diagnose liver disease early so that novel as well as established therapies can be provided to our patients," says Dr. Talwalkar. Treatment and lifestyle changes can help stop the progression of hepatic fibrosis to liver cirrhosis and liver failure, which would eventually require a liver transplant.

The incidence and prevalence of chronic liver disease is increasing in the United States. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease has become the most common liver disease and is linked to the growing numbers of patients with obesity and diabetes. The number of patients seeking medical care for hepatitis C is also increasing. This disease, spread by coming into contact with blood contaminated by the virus, slowly damages the liver over decades.

MRE research began at Mayo Clinic about 10 years ago. The technology measures low-frequency acoustic waves transmitted into the abdomen. The wave motions measured are miniscule, 0.01 of the width of a human hair.

The noninvasive procedure takes seconds to conduct. Mayo Clinic is already using MRE to diagnose patients with liver conditions. Research is under way to study how MRE might aid in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and some cancers.


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Contact: Amy Tieder
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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