Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Intravoxel Incoherent Motion Diffusion-weighted MR Imaging-An Experimental Study in a Rabbit Model.
Purpose To evaluate the feasibility of using intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) diffusion-weighted imaging with multiple b values for the noninvasive diagnosis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Materials and Methods This study was approved by the institutional animal care and use committee. Twenty-seven 8-week-old rabbits were fed a variety of diets (from a standard diet to a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet) before IVIM diffusion-weighted imaging was performed with seven b values by using a 3-T magnetic resonance (MR) imaging unit. At histologic analysis of the animals, livers were categorized by NAFLD severity as normal, NAFLD, borderline nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), or NASH. The apparent diffusion coefficient and IVIM-derived parameters including true diffusion coefficient, pseudodiffusion coefficient, and perfusion fraction of the liver parenchyma were measured. Each parameter was correlated with NAFLD severity, and optimal cutoff values were determined by means of receiver operating characteristics analysis. Results Perfusion fraction was significantly lower in rabbits with NAFLD than in those with a normal liver, and it decreased further as severity of NAFLD increased, with medians of 22.2%, 14.8%, 11.3%, and 9.5% in the rabbits in the normal, NAFLD, borderline, and NASH groups, respectively (? = -0.83, P < .001). Apparent diffusion coefficient, true diffusion coefficient, and pseudodiffusion coefficient were not significantly different between the NAFLD severity groups. In terms of the diagnostic performance of perfusion fraction, area under the curve values were 0.984 (normal vs NAFLD or more severe disease), 0.959 (NAFLD or less severe vs borderline or more severe disease), and 0.903 (borderline or less severe vs NASH) with optimal cutoff values of 15.2%, 13.2%, and 11.0%, respectively. Conclusion Perfusion fractions extracted from IVIM diffusion-weighted imaging may help in the differentiation of early stage NASH from simple steatosis. © RSNA, 2013.