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World’s First Reference Material to Improve Accuracy of MRI and CT Diagnosis of Fatty Liver

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 01 Jul 2024
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Image: Emulsified reference material applied to MRI device in form of phantom (Photo courtesy of KRISS)
Image: Emulsified reference material applied to MRI device in form of phantom (Photo courtesy of KRISS)

MRI and CT scans are essential for diagnosing conditions like fatty liver disease because they can non-invasively evaluate body fat, unlike invasive biopsy methods. However, the inconsistency in fat measurement values across different hospitals, manufacturers, and models poses a challenge, mainly because there are no established calibration standards. This variability makes it difficult for doctors, who must rely on their expertise and intuition, complicating multi-center clinical trials and big data research that require uniform measurements. Existing phantoms, designed to mimic body fat, have stability issues due to their composition, which includes about ten additives like artificial surfactants, and there is no objective method for verifying the precise content of these substances. Scientists have now developed the world’s first reference material to improve the accuracy of body fat measurements conducted through MRI and CT scans.

This new reference material, developed by the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS, Daejeon, South Korea), is an additive-free emulsion of water and fat, offering more accurate measurements of fat content. It has been designed for high stability and uniformity. The innovation was due to a collaborative effort within three KRISS departments, combining expertise in chemical water measurement and ultrasonic emulsification technology tailored for medical imaging applications. When used within a phantom, this reference material can standardize fat measurements across different systems by analyzing the water content to calculate the fat percentage.

The application of this new reference material and phantom is set to enhance the accuracy of medical imaging measurements and the reliability of diagnoses across various institutions. It also aims to provide a standard reference for aggregating multi-device and multi-center data in clinical studies, including those for obesity-related treatments. Siemens Healthineers (Forchheim, Germany) is already incorporating this breakthrough in its research to measure fat content with MRI machines. This research was published in the international journal Metrologia (IF: 2.4) in January. KRISS is planning further research to offer more refined concentrations of the reference material and help establish a new system for evaluating the performance of medical imaging devices based on extensive multi-center data.

"We will use this reference material in future clinical trials and patient-specific disease diagnosis to obtain more accurate and consistent data," said Professor Dong Wook Kim from the Department of Radiology at Asan Medical Center, who supported the validation of the reference material.

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