Various liver diseases lead to significant alterations of the hepatic microcirculation. Therefore, quantification of hepatic perfusion has the potential to improve the assessment and management of liver diseases. Most methods used to quantify liver perfusion are invasive or controversial. This paper describes and validates a non-invasive method for the quantification of liver perfusion using computed tomography (CT). Dynamic single-section CT of the liver was performed after intravenous bolus administration of a low-molecular-mass iodinated contrast agent. Hepatic, aortic and portal-venous time—density curves were fitted with a dual-input one-compartmental model to calculate liver perfusion. Validation studies consisted of simultaneous measurements of hepatic perfusion with CT and with radiolabelled microspheres in rabbits at rest and after adenosine infusion. The feasibility and reproducibility of the CT method in humans was assessed by three observers in 10 patients without liver disease. In rabbits, significant correlations were observed between perfusion measurements obtained with CT and with microspheres (r = 0.92 for total liver perfusion, r = 0.81 for arterial perfusion and r = 0.85 for portal perfusion). In patients, total liver plasma perfusion measured with CT was 112±28 ml·min-1·100 ml-1, arterial plasma perfusion was 18±12 ml·min-1·100 ml-1 and portal plasma perfusion was 93±31 ml·min-1·100 ml-1. The measurements obtained by the three observers were not significantly different from each other (P > 0.1). Our results indicate that dynamic CT combined with a dual-input one-compartmental model provides a valid and reliable method for the non-invasive quantification of perfusion in the normal liver.

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