"Multiparametric Ultrasound Imaging for Early-stage Steatosis: Comparison with Magnetic Resonance Imaging-based Proton Density Fat Fraction"

July 28, 2023

A paper co-authored by former PhD student Jihye Baek, Professor Kevin Parker, and colleagues in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Texas at Dallas titled "Multiparametric ultrasound imaging for early-stage steatosis: comparison with magnetic resonance Imaging-based proton density fat fraction" has been published in Medical PhysicsThe abstract follows; more information can be found here.

Abstract: Background: The prevalence of liver diseases, especially steatosis, requires a more convenient and noninvasive tool for liver diagnosis, which can be a surrogate for the gold standard biopsy. Magnetic resonance (MR) measurement offers potential, however ultrasound (US) has better accessibility than MR. Purpose: This study aims to suggest a multiparametric US approach which demonstrates better quantification and imaging performance than MR imaging-based proton density fat fraction (MRI-PDFF) for hepatic steatosis assessment. Methods: We investigated early-stage steatosis to evaluate our approach. An in vivo (within the living) animal study was performed. Fat inclusions were accumulated in the animal livers by feeding a methionine and choline deficient (MCD) diet for 2 weeks. The animals (n = 19) underwent US and MR imaging, and then their livers were excised for histological staining. From the US, MR, and histology images, fat accumulation levels were measured and compared: multiple US parameters; MRI-PDFF; histology fat percentages. Seven individual US parameters were extracted using B-mode measurement, Burr distribution estimation, attenuation estimation, H-scan analysis, and shear wave elastography. Feature selection was performed, and the selected US features were combined, providing quantification of fat accumulation. The combined parameter was used for visualizing the localized probability of fat accumulation level in the liver; This procedure is known as disease-specific imaging (DSI). Results: The combined US parameter can sensitively assess fat accumulation levels, which is highly correlated with histology fat percentage (R = 0.93, p-value < 0.05) and outperforms the correlation between MRI-PDFF and histology (R = 0.89, p-value < 0.05). Although the seven individual US parameters showed lower correlation with histology compared to MRI-PDFF, the multiparametric analysis enabled US to outperform MR. Furthermore, this approach allowed DSI to detect and display gradual increases in fat accumulation. From the imaging output, we measured the color-highlighted area representing fatty tissues, and the fat fraction obtained from DSI and histology showed strong agreement (R = 0.93, p-value < 0.05). Conclusions: We demonstrated that fat quantification utilizing a combination of multiple US parameters achieved higher performance than MRI-PDFF; therefore, our multiparametric analysis successfully combined selected features for hepatic steatosis characterization. We anticipate clinical use of our proposed multiparametric US analysis, which could be beneficial in assessing steatosis in humans.