MRE measures the stiffness of liver tissue in people with known or suspected liver disease. Liver disease can result in scarring of the liver (fibrosis), which increases the stiffness of liver tissue.
Often, people with liver fibrosis don't experience any signs or symptoms. But untreated liver fibrosis may progress to cirrhosis, which can be fatal. If diagnosed, liver fibrosis often can be treated to halt progression and sometimes to reverse the condition.
Studies have shown that MRE is highly accurate at ruling out liver fibrosis. If you have liver fibrosis, MRE can help your doctor gauge the severity of your liver disease, guide treatment decisions and assess your response to treatment.
The traditional test for liver fibrosis uses a needle to extract a sample (biopsy) of liver tissue. MRE offers several advantages:
- It's noninvasive and generally safer and more comfortable than biopsy is.
- It assesses the entire liver, not just the portion of liver tissue that is biopsied or imaged by other noninvasive tests.
- It can detect fibrosis at an earlier stage than can other imaging methods.
- It's effective in people who are obese or who have fluid accumulation in the abdomen (ascites).