Normative Pancreatic Stiffness Levels and Related Influences Established by Magnetic Resonance Elastography in Volunteers

Youli Xu, Xiaoli Cai, Yu Shi, Meng Yin, Gongyu Lan, Xianyi Zhang, Ruoyun Ji, L. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Large-scale normative studies of pancreatic stiffness and potential influences have yet to be pursued via magnetic resonance elastography (MRE). Purpose: To determine normative MRE-based pancreatic stiffness values and to examine related influential factors. Study Type: Prospective. Subjects: In all, 361 volunteers (men, 199; women, 162) with a median age of 54.0 years and a median body mass index (BMI) of 22.86 kg/m2 were prospectively recruited. Those with no histories of smoking, alcohol abuse, and diabetes mellitus (DM) were grouped as healthy volunteers, designating all others as positive controls. Field Strength/Sequence: Each volunteer underwent 3.0T pancreatic MRI at a frequency of 40 Hz. Assessment: Pancreatic stiffness values, pancreatic width and volume, waist circumference, and wave distance were measured in all subjects. Statistical Tests: Multiple linear regression analyses were performed to determine variables that influence MRE-determined stiffness. Results: The mean pancreatic stiffness in all volunteers was 1.20 ± 0.16 kPa. Stiffness levels in positive control volunteers proved significantly greater than levels in healthy volunteers (1.29 ± 0.17 kPa vs. 1.14 ± 0.13 kPa; P < 0.001). In multiple linear regression analysis, sex (P = 0.004), BMI (P < 0.001), pancreatic width (P = 0.005), smoking (P < 0.001), alcohol abuse (P < 0.001), and DM (P = 0.001) emerged as significant independent factors impacting pancreatic stiffness. Smoking, alcohol abuse, DM, and wide pancreas were associated with greater pancreatic stiffness (coefficients = 0.202, 0.183, 0.149, and 0.160, respectively), while reduced pancreatic stiffness corresponded with female sex and larger BMI (coefficient = −0.155 and −0.192, respectively). Data Conclusion: MRE-based pancreatic stiffness values are impacted by sex, BMI, pancreatic width, smoking, alcohol abuse, and DM. Reference values are essential for future clinical studies. Level of Evidence: 1. Technical Efficacy: Stage 2. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2020;52:448–458.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-458
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • alcohol
  • magnetic resonance elastography
  • pancreatic stiffness
  • smoking
  • volunteers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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