Liver diagnostic technology

Wednesday, 08 February, 2006

Resonance Health's non-invasive liver diagnostic technology uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to provide a scan of the liver which is subsequently analysed to quantify iron loading using FerriScan's proprietary software. It is a novel technology easily applied to anyone with an MRI machine.

MRI uses radio signals in a strong magnetic field to create detailed images of sections of tissue. The signals have different properties depending on the nature of the tissue being imaged.

Detection, but not quantification, of increased deposits of iron in the liver was possible with conventional MRI imaging. Quantification is an essential step for accurate diagnosis of iron overload disease and to monitor treatments aimed at lowering iron levels in the liver.

The FerriScan test enables users to gain an accurate measurement of the concentration of iron throughout the liver. The test relies on a market known as the proton transverse relaxation rate (R2) which is particularly sensitive to iron. A calibration curve that forms part of the FerriScan test enables the transformation of R2 measurements into iron concentrations.

Traditional methods for diagnosing iron overload in the liver involve use of indirect blood markers and the insertion of a large bore needle across the abdominal wall into the liver for the removal of a biopsy sample. Neither of these tools are optimal for measurement of iron levels: biopsies are invasive and dangerous, while both methods are inaccurate due to sample size or the indirect nature of the test.

Replacing liver biopsies by scans of sequential cross sections of the liver eliminates both the sampling errors inherent in biopsy procedure (which relies on one sample from a very large organ) and the risk to the patient associated with gaining access to the liver from outside the body.

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