Contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging of the liver: Present and future
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New contrast agents are being developed by drug companies to better image the liver magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They can be divided into hepatobiliary agents (Gd-EOB-DTPA, Gd-BOPTA, Mangafodipir) and nanoparticulate agents directed to the reticulo-endothelial system (ferumoxides, SHU 555A). After intravenous injection, all these agents concentrate in the liver and induce profound signal changes. Particulate agents induce predominantly a darkening of the liver parenchyma, while hepatobiliary agents induce a brightening. In both cases, liver-lesion conspicuity is enhanced, leading to a better visualization of the lesion. After a description of the principal pharmacokinetic characteristics of the compounds, this review paper summarizes the utility of the agents in the detection and characterization of focal liver diseases.
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