Magnetic resonance elastography in a nutshell: Tomographic imaging of soft tissue viscoelasticity for detecting and staging disease with a focus on inflammation


  • T. Meyer
  • J. Castelein
  • J. Schattenfroh
  • A.S. Morr
  • R. Vieira da Silva
  • H. Tzschätzsch
  • R. Reiter
  • J. Guo
  • I. Sack


  • Progress in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy


  • Prog Nucl Magn Reson Spectrosc 144-145: 1-14


  • Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is an emerging clinical imaging modality for characterizing the viscoelastic properties of soft biological tissues. MRE shows great promise in the noninvasive diagnosis of various diseases, especially those associated with soft tissue changes involving the extracellular matrix, cell density, or fluid turnover including altered blood perfusion – all hallmarks of inflammation from early events to cancer development. This review covers the fundamental principles of measuring tissue viscoelasticity by MRE, which are based on the stimulation and encoding of shear waves and their conversion into parameter maps of mechanical properties by inverse problem solutions of the wave equation. Technical challenges posed by real-world biological tissue properties such as viscosity, heterogeneity, anisotropy, and nonlinear elastic behavior of tissues are discussed. Applications of MRE measurement in both humans and animal models are presented, with emphasis on the detection, characterization, and staging of diseases related to the cascade of biomechanical property changes from early to chronic inflammation in the liver and brain. Overall, MRE provides valuable insights into the biophysics of soft tissues for imaging-based detection and staging of inflammation-associated tissue changes.