Research Medical Center — part of HCA Midwest Health System, Kansas City’s largest healthcare network — is the first hospital in the area to offer leading-edge MR Elastography (MRE), advanced technology that provides a safer, more comfortable and non-invasive alternative to liver biopsy. The traditional method used to assess liver disease — a needle biopsy — is often painful and comes with associated risks of infection, bleeding and inaccurate results.
“Conventional MRI is a powerful tool,” says Michael Farber, MD, board-certified radiologist, Midwest Radiology Inc. at Research Medical Center. “However, early liver fibrosis, caused by a number of different liver diseases, creates no physical changes to the organ, making identification difficult and often requiring a needle biopsy. The advent of MRE is exciting for many reasons and offers myriad patient benefits, including early detection and more accurate diagnosis.”
Available in only 100 locations throughout the world — now including Research Medical Center in Kansas City —MRE is the new standard of care in assessing and identifying liver stiffness or elasticity, a condition that characterizes liver disease. According to Dr. Farber, low-frequency MRE is a highly sensitive method to determine an individual’s level of liver disease, making the technology not only a faster and less expensive diagnosis than a biopsy, but also a more accurate one.
“MRE is able to evaluate a much larger cross-section of the liver for evaluation than biopsy,” he notes. “As a result, we are able to more reliably assess the extent of a patient’s liver fibrosis or hardening. This development in technology means that liver disease may be diagnosed at an early stage, when intervention is critical and treatments can still be effective.”
Dr. Farber, fellowship-trained in abdominal radiology, notes that the ability MRE has to analyze an individual’s liver health in a faster, more reliable way is particularly crucial as the level of obesity and its associated fatty liver disease rises in the United States.
“Currently one in three Americans live with fatty liver disease, and within a decade this condition will be the leading cause for liver transplant,” he explains. “In addition, MRE is also beneficial in diagnosing the development of liver fibrosis in patients with viral hepatitis B and C infection well before the development of end stage liver disease, or cirrhosis, which occurs in up to 25 percent of hepatitis C patients."
Midwest Radiology, Inc. at Research Medical Center started offering MR Elastography imaging to patients in July.
“Making this world-class radiology technology available to patients in their own backyard, here in the Kansas City area, is part of Research Medical Center’s commitment to high-quality, innovative care,” says Kevin J. Hicks, Chief Executive Officer, Research Medical Center.
“Focused patient care is about pushing forward and I’m very proud that we are the first to offer MR Elastography — yet another reason we are a leader in healthcare in Kansas City.”
For more information on MR Elastography, call (816) 276-4404 or visit researchmedicalcenter.com.