Quantitative Imaging in the Abdomen

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Over the last decade, “quantitative imaging” has become all the rage, particularly in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). After all, what could be more scientific than describing features of a disease process by numbers, which can be compared against normal values and followed over time?
Unfortunately, it has become clear that the road to clinically useful quantitative imaging is fraught with pitfalls. “Quantification” is simply the assignment of a numerical value, and unfortunately, many attempts to quantify disease suffer from such poor repeatability and reproducibility that they can be almost meaningless. Moreover, it is possible to estimate any number of measures in abdominal MRI, but are quantities such as the length of the pancreas truly meaningful?
In this issue of Topics in Magnetic Resonance Imaging, we focus on a selection of quantitative imaging techniques in the abdomen. While there are others, this group of topics illustrates the evolution of quantitative imaging. From the heavily investigated, heavily published methods for estimating the Proton Density Fat Fraction, to the bleeding edge (pun intended) in abdominal perfusion imaging, to the widely used but often still confusing diffusion quantification, to clinical holy grail of liver fibrosis quantification, these articles serve as fundamental summaries of the state of these select quantification methods in abdominal MRI.

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