Characterization of degree of intestinal fibrosis in patients with Crohn disease by using magnetization transfer MR imaging

Xue Hua Li, Ren Mao, Si Yun Huang, Can Hui Sun, Qing Hua Cao, Zhuang Nian Fang, Zhong Wei Zhang, Li Huang, Jin Jiang Lin, Yu Jun Chen, Jordi Rimola, Florian Rieder, Min Hu Chen, Shi Ting Feng, Zi Ping Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the role of magnetization transfer (MT) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging for the characterization of intestinal fibrosis compared with contrast material-enhanced and diffusion-weighted MR imaging and its capability for differentiating fibrotic from inflammatory strictures in humans with Crohn disease (CD) by using surgical histopathologic analysis as the reference standard. Materials and Methods: Institutional review board approval and informed consent were obtained for this prospective study. Abdominal MT imaging, contrast-enhanced imaging, and diffusion-weighted imaging of 31 consecutive patients with CD were analyzed before elective surgery. The bowel wall MT ratio normalized to skeletal muscle, the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), and the percentage of enhancement gain were calculated; region-by-region correlations with the surgical specimen were performed to determine the histologic degree of fibrosis and inflammation. The performance of MT imaging was validated in five new patients. One-way analysis of variance test, Spearman rank correlation, and receiver operating characteristic curve were used for statistical analysis. Results: Normalized MT ratios strongly correlated with fibrosis scores (r = 0.769; P =.000) but did not correlate with inflammation scores (r = 20.034; P =.740). Significant differences (F = 49.002; P =.000) in normalized MT ratios were found among nonfibrotic, mildly, moderately, and severely fibrotic walls. The normalized MT ratios of mixed fibrotic and inflammatory bowel walls were significantly higher than those of bowel walls with only inflammation present (t = 28.52; P =.000). A high accuracy of normalized MT ratios was shown with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.919 (P =.000) for differentiating moderately to severely fibrotic bowel walls from nonfibrotic and mildly fibrotic bowel walls, followed by ADC (AUC, 0.747; P =.001) and the percentage of enhancement gain (AUC, 0.592; P =.209). The sensitivity, specificity, and AUC of MT imaging for diagnosing moderate to severe fibrosis in the validation data set were 80% (12 of 15), 100% (three of three), and 0.9 (P =.033), respectively. Conclusion: MT imaging outperforms ADC and contrast-enhanced imaging in detecting and distinguishing varying degrees of bowel fibrosis with or without coexisting inflammation. MT imaging could potentially be used as a method to differentiate fibrotic from inflammatory intestinal strictures in patients with CD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-503
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2018


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