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PURPOSE: Both congestive (patients post-Fontan hepatopathy) and congenital (patients with ARPKD) disease can lead to hepatic fibrosis and portal hypertension with eventual development of splenomegaly. We investigated liver and spleen stiffness as measured by MRE between post-Fontan, ARPKD patients and controls independent of organ volume.
METHODS: Our study included 122 subjects (70 Fontan patients, 14 ARPKD patients, and 38 controls). The mean MRE liver and spleen stiffness values of Fontan patients and patients with ARPKD were compared to controls. Similarly, the liver and spleen volumes of the Fontan patients and patients with ARPKD were then compared to the volumes of controls.
RESULTS: Post-Fontan and ARPKD patients, mean liver stiffness, mean liver volume as well as mean spleen stiffness and mean spleen volume were higher than mean liver stiffness, mean liver volume, mean spleen stiffness, and mean spleen volume of controls. While liver stiffness correlated to liver volume in controls, we found no correlation between stiffness and volume in either Fontan or ARPKD patients, which indicates MRE's ability to act as an independent biomarker. However, these findings are not true in the spleen, where there is significant association between volume and stiffness in patients with ARPKD, but not in Fontan patients or controls.
CONCLUSION: Liver and spleen stiffness and volumes are significantly different among Fontan patients, ARPKD patients, and controls. Our findings suggest that beyond diagnosing fibrosis, MRE cut-off values could be disease-specific since not only the severity but the underlying pathology causing organ congestion or fibrosis influences MRE results.