Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) could offer a new non-invasive test for liver damage that could transform the care of patients with cirrhosis, say experts in Nottingham.
In a paper published in the Journal of Hepatology, the researchers from The University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust have demonstrated that MRI can be successfully used to estimate the pressure in the circulation of the liver.
Cirrhosis - scarring of the liver caused by long-term damage - kills 4,000 people in the UK every year 700 people with the condition need a liver transplant to survive.
The accumulation of this scarring can prevent the blood from flowing effectively within the liver and the resulting build-up of pressure in liver circulation leads to the formation of varicose veins in the oesophagus and stomach, as well as an accumulation of fluid in the body.
The condition can be life-threatening for patients – a rupture to one of these veins can be potentially fatal.
Doctors currently measure this pressure by passing a long catheter through the jugular vein in the neck into the liver. This highly invasive and expensive test carries a small but significant risk of complications and is only available at specialist liver centres.
The team led by Professors Guruprasad Aithal and Susan Francis, and based at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit, have developed the use of an MRI scan to assess high blood pressure in the liver circulation, the degree of liver scarring and changes in the liver blood flow.
The technique is patient-friendly and can be performed using standard MRI scanners widely available across the NHS.
Professor Aithal said: “These scans can be done as outpatients, to pre-empt potential consequence of high blood pressure in liver circulation so that treatment can be instituted ahead of time.
“It can also help us to monitor whether treatment is effective. This MR technique has the potential to transform care of patients with liver cirrhosis and accelerate the discovery and development of new treatments.”
— Ends —
Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Globelynx fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at University Park campus. For further information please contact a member of the Communications team on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email email@example.com or see the Globelynx website for how to register for this service.
For up to the minute media alerts, follow us on Twitter
Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK for research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.
Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…