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Application of Modified Spin-Echo–based Sequences for Hepatic MR Elastography: Evaluation, Comparison with the Conventional Gradient-Echo Sequence, and Preliminary Clinical Experience

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Purpose To (a) evaluate modified spin-echo (SE) magnetic resonance (MR) elastographic sequences for acquiring MR images with improved signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) in patients in whom the standard gradient-echo (GRE) MR elastographic sequence yields low hepatic signal intensity and (b) compare the stiffness values obtained with these sequences with those obtained with the conventional GRE sequence. Materials and Methods This HIPAA-compliant retrospective study was approved by the institutional review board; the requirement to obtain informed consent was waived. Data obtained with modified SE and SE echo-planar imaging (EPI) MR elastographic pulse sequences with short echo times were compared with those obtained with the conventional GRE MR elastographic sequence in two patient cohorts, one that exhibited adequate liver signal intensity and one that exhibited low liver signal intensity. Shear stiffness values obtained with the three sequences in 130 patients with successful GRE-based examinations were retrospectively tested for statistical equivalence by using a 5% margin. In 47 patients in whom GRE examinations were considered to have failed because of low SNR, the SNR and confidence level with the SE-based sequences were compared with those with the GRE sequence. Results The results of this study helped confirm the equivalence of SE MR elastography and SE-EPI MR elastography to GRE MR elastography (P = .0212 and P = .0001, respectively). The SE and SE-EPI MR elastographic sequences provided substantially improved SNR and stiffness inversion confidence level in 47 patients in whom GRE MR elastography had failed. Conclusion Modified SE-based MR elastographic sequences provide higher SNR MR elastographic data and reliable stiffness measurements; thus, they enable quantification of stiffness in patients in whom the conventional GRE MR elastographic sequence failed owing to low signal intensity. The equivalence of the three sequences indicates that the current diagnostic thresholds are applicable to SE MR elastographic sequences for assessing liver fibrosis. © RSNA, 2016.

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