How does alteration of hepatic blood flow affect liver perfusion and radiofrequency-induced thermal lesion size in rabbit liver?

Andrik J. Aschoff, Elmar M. Merkle, Virginia Wong, Qiang Zhang, Matthew M. Mendez, Jeffrey L. Duerk, Jonathan S. Lewin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that decreasing liver perfusion in rabbits results in an increase in thermal lesion size and that these effects can be accurately monitored using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We additionally tested the hypothesis that the increase in thermal lesion size would depend on the particular vessel or vessels occluded (hepatic artery, portal vein, or both). Using an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approved protocol, 20 New Zealand white rabbits were randomly assigned to four treatment groups (five in each group): control and ligation of portal vein (PV), hepatic artery (HA), or both PV and HA (HAPV). Surgical ligation of the appropriate vessel was performed under general anesthesia. Immediately after ligation, the rabbits were placed in a 0.2-T open MR system, and an 18-G copper radiofrequency (RF) electrode with a 2-cm exposed tip was inserted into the liver. RF was applied for 10 minutes with the tip temperature maintained at 90° ± 2°C. Before and after ablation, perfusion data were obtained for 90 seconds using 30 3-second sequential single oblique-slice fast imaging with steady-state progression (FISP) acquisitions after injection of gadolinium-diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid (Gd-DTPA) via the inferior vena cava. Postablation scanning included axial and oblique turbo spin-echo (TSE) T2-weighted (T2w), STIR, and Gd-enhanced T1w sequences. Lesion size was determined perpendicular to the RF electrode using software calipers on the imager. The rabbits were sacrificed after completion of the post-therapy scans, and their livers were harvested for histologic analysis. The liver showed a mean increase in signal amplitude (SA) of 76% 24 seconds after Gel contrast injection in the control group. After contrast injection, the SA increased to a mean of only 66% in the group with ligated hepatic arteries, with no difference in the time to peak compared with the control group. No significant SA increase over baseline could be found in the groups with ligated PV or ligated PV and HA. T2-weighted images demonstrated the highest lesion-to-liver contrast-to-noise ratios (CNRs; mean -5.5) on postprocedure images, followed by STIR images (mean -2.2) in the control group. The lesions were poorly delineated on the Gd-enhanced images. Average maximum lesion sizes (mean ± 95% confidence interval) were 22 ± 4.3 mm after ligation of PV. 22 ± 2.6 mm after ligation of both PV and HA, 14 ± 2.0 mm after ligation of HA, and 13 ± 1.9 mm in the control group. We accept the hypothesis that the diameter of the region of coagulation necrosis achieved by standardized RF ablation in the liver increases with reduced organ perfusion and that this effect can be accurately monitored using MRI. The major factor influencing the size of the coagulation area is the portal venous flow. Occlusion of the hepatic artery alone does not significantly increase lesion size. T2w sequences are best suited for postprocedure imaging due to the high lesion-to-liver CNR in rabbits with normal hepatic perfusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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