Feasibility of in vivo MR elastographic splenic stiffness measurements in the assessment of portal hypertension

Jayant A. Talwalkar, Meng Yin, Sudhakar Venkatesh, Phillip J. Rossman, Roger C. Grimm, Armando Manduca, Anthony Romano, Patrick S. Kamath, Richard L. Ehman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. Liver stiffness is associated with portal hypertension in patients with chronic liver disease. However, the relation between spleen stiffness and clinically significant portal hypertension remains unknown. The purposes of this study were to determine the feasibility of measuring spleen stiffness with MR elastography and to prospectively test the technique in healthy volunteers and in patients with compensated liver disease. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Spleen stiffness was measured with MR elastography in 12 healthy volunteers (mean age, 37 years; range, 25-82 years) and 38 patients (mean age, 56 years; range, 36-60 years) with chronic liver disease of various causes. For patients with liver disease, laboratory findings, spleen size, presence and size of esophageal varices, and liver histologic results were recorded. Statistical analyses were performed to assess all measurements. RESULTS. MR elastography of the spleen was successfully performed on all volunteers and patients. The mean spleen stiffness was significantly lower in the volunteers (mean, 3.6 ± 0.3 kPa) than in the patients with liver fibrosis (mean, 5.6 ± 5.0 kPa; range, 2.7-19.2 kPa; p < 0.001). In addition, a significant correlation was observed between liver stiffness and spleen stiffness for the entire cohort (r2 = 0.75; p < 0.001). Predictors of spleen stiffness were splenomegaly, spleen volume, and platelet count. A mean spleen stiffness of 10.5 kPa or greater was identified in all patients with esophageal varices. CONCLUSION. MR elastography of the spleen is feasible and shows promise as a quantitative method for predicting the presence of esophageal varices in patients with advanced hepatic fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-127
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Esophageal varices
  • Liver fibrosis
  • MR elastography
  • Portal hypertension
  • Spleen stiffness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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