Tuesday, March 08, 2011
ROCHESTER, Minn. — A new diagnostic imaging tool invented at Mayo Clinic helps doctors know how internal organs feel to the touch, according to the March issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.
Called magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), the technology merges the age-old diagnostic practice of using touch — known as palpation — with high-tech magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
MRE uses sound waves to vibrate soft tissues within the body, then captures and analyzes the characteristics of how the tissues vibrate. That information is used to create an image that depicts the relative stiffness of the body tissues and organs.
Mayo Clinic and other select medical centers are using MRE to diagnose early stages of liver disease. A healthy liver is soft and supple. Early liver disease causes a stiffening of the liver tissues from fibrosis, which can be detected quickly and painlessly with MRE. When diagnosed early, fibrosis can be halted or reversed with proper treatment. Advanced fibrosis can only be treated with liver transplant.
Previously, the only way to diagnosis liver fibrosis was by taking tissue samples (biopsies) using needles. This approach didn't always produce accurate results. The sample could have come from healthy areas of a diseased liver.
Mayo Clinic researchers are studying MRE as a tool to aid in the diagnosis of other diseases and conditions, including breast cancer, brain injury, Alzheimer's disease and musculoskeletal diseases.
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