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Hepatic steatosis and reduction in steatosis following bariatric weight loss surgery differs between segments and lobes

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The purpose of this study was to (1) evaluate proton density fat fraction (PDFF) distribution across liver segments at baseline and (2) compare longitudinal segmental PDFF changes across time points in adult patients undergoing a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) and subsequent bariatric weight loss surgery (WLS).


We performed a secondary analysis of data from 118 morbidly obese adult patients enrolled in a VLCD-WLS program. PDFF was estimated using magnitude-based confounder-corrected chemical-shift-encoded (CSE) MRI in each hepatic segment and lobe at baseline (visit 1), after completion of VLCD (visit 2), and at 1, 3, and 6 months (visits 3-5) following WLS. Linear regressions were used to estimate the rate of PDFF change across visits. Lobar and segmental rates of change were compared pairwise.


Baseline PDFF was significantly higher in the right lobe compared to the left lobe (p < 0.0001). Lobar and segmental PDFF declined by 3.9-4.5% per month between visits 1 and 2 (preoperative period) and by 4.3-4.8% per month between visits 1 and 3 (perioperative period), but no significant pairwise differences were found in slope between segments and lobes. For visits 3-5 (postoperative period), lobar and segmental PDFF reduction was much less overall (0.4-0.8% PDFF per month) and several pairwise differences were significant; in each case, a right-lobe segment had greater decline than a left-lobe segment.


Baseline and longitudinal changes in fractional fat content in the 5-month postoperative period following WLS vary across segments, with right-lobe segments having higher PDFF at baseline and more rapid reduction in liver fat content.

Key points

• Baseline and longitudinal changes in liver fat following bariatric weight loss surgery vary across liver segments. • Methods that do not provide whole liver fat assessment, such as liver biopsy, may be unreliable in monitoring longitudinal changes in liver fat following weight loss interventions.

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