Magnetic Resonance Elastography: A Novel Technique for the Detection of Hepatic Fibrosis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma After the Fontan Operation

Joseph T. Poterucha, Jonathan N. Johnson, M. Yasir Qureshi, Patrick W. O'Leary, Patrick S. Kamath, Ryan J. Lennon, Crystal R. Bonnichsen, Phillip M. Young, Sudhakar K. Venkatesh, Richard L. Ehman, Sounak Gupta, Thomas C. Smyrk, Joseph A. Dearani, Carole A. Warnes, Frank Cetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the utility of magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) in screening patients for hepatic fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma after the Fontan operation. Patients and Methods: Hepatic MRE was performed in conjunction with cardiac magnetic resonance imaging in patients who had undergone a Fontan operation between 2010 and 2014. Liver stiffness was calculated using previously reported techniques. Comparisons to available clinical, laboratory, imaging, and histopathologic data were made. Results: Overall, 50 patients at a median age of 25 years (range, 21-33 years) who had undergone a Fontan operation were evaluated. The median interval between Fontan operation and MRE was 22 years (range, 16-26 years). The mean liver stiffness values were increased: 5.5±1.4 kPa relative to normal participants. Liver stiffness directly correlated with liver biopsy-derived total fibrosis score, time since operation, mean Fontan pressure, γ-glutamyltransferase level, Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score, creatinine level, and pulmonary vascular resistance index. Liver stiffness was inversely correlated with cardiac index. All 3 participants with hepatic nodules exhibiting decreased contrast uptake on delayed postcontrast imaging and increased nodule stiffness had biopsy-proven hepatocellular carcinoma. Conclusion: The association between hepatic stiffness and fibrosis scores, Model for End-Stage Liver Disease scores, and γ-glutamyltransferase level suggests that MRE may be useful in detecting (and possibly quantifying) hepatic cirrhosis in patients after the Fontan operation. The correlation between stiffness and post-Fontan time interval, mean Fontan pressure, pulmonary vascular resistance index, and reduced cardiac index suggests a role for long-term hepatic congestion in creating these hepatic abnormalities. Magnetic resonance elastography was useful in detecting abnormal nodules ultimately diagnosed as hepatocellular carcinoma. The relationship between stiffness with advanced fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma provides a strong argument for additional study and broader application of MRE in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)882-894
Number of pages13
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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