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Published on June 12, 2019

Abington - Jefferson Health Offers MR Elastography, a Diagnostic Imaging Test for the Detection of Liver Disease and Cirrhosis

Warminster, PA (June 12, 2019) - Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis are major public health problems. In 2004, the estimated direct costs were at least $2.5 billion for medical services in the U.S. alone.

In 2016, these conditions were associated over 40,000 deaths. Due to aging, obesity and end-stage liver disease caused by chronic Hepatitis C, these numbers are expected to increase over the next 20 years.

One of the newest options for detecting chronic liver disease and cirrhosis is MR Elastography (MRE), which is now offered at Abington Jefferson Health – Warminster, located at 225 Newtown Road. It is a non-invasive and pain-free imaging test that is about half the cost of a liver biopsy.

MRE measures the stiffness of the liver using a small, circular, drum like surface device (driver) that is placed over the right upper abdomen. This external device delivers low frequency mechanical waves/vibrations to probe the elastic properties of the underlying tissue. The patterns of these mechanical waves, generated in the body through the external acoustic driver, are then imaged using a special phase-contrast MR sequence.

MRE maps the elastic properties and stiffness of the soft tissue. Whether the tissue is hard or soft, it will give diagnostic information about the presence or status of disease. The resulting diagnostic images are referred to as elastograms.

MRE only requires fasting for four to six hours before the exam. It does not use contrast dye or ionizing radiation, thus providing a safe, completely non-invasive test. The transmission of the sound waves is painless.

Patients with the following conditions may benefit from this new test:

  • Liver fibrosis
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Type II diabetes
  • Hepatitis B or C
  • Metabolic syndrome

The current standard of care for detecting these conditions is a liver biopsy, which is uncomfortable for patients and expensive to perform. Other non-invasive techniques that are available for evaluating liver fibrosis include blood tests and transient ultrasound elastography. The latter has limitations in obese patients.

“We are excited to bring this latest advance in MR imaging detection of liver fibrosis to patients on our new MR imaging machine at our Warminster Campus,” said Phillip S. Lim, MD, chair, Radiology, Abington - Jefferson Health. “Simply, MRE technology means earlier, safer detection of liver fibrosis and a better chance of successful treatment.”

About Abington – Jefferson Health

Abington – Jefferson Health encompasses Abington Hospital in Abington, Abington – Lansdale Hospital in Hatfield Township, two Urgent Care Centers located in Flourtown and Willow Grove, and six convenient outpatient facilities located in Willow Grove, Warminster, Blue Bell, Lower Gwynedd, Montgomeryville and Elkins Park. More than 1,400 physicians are on staff at both Abington Hospital and Abington – Lansdale Hospital. In addition, some physicians are members of Abington Health Physicians, an employed network of primary care physicians and specialists. Abington – Jefferson Health is part of Jefferson Health and Jefferson, a newly formed organization dedicated to providing the highest quality, compassionate clinical care for patients, educating the health professionals of tomorrow, and discovering new treatments and therapies that will define the future of health care.

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