A recent retrospective single-center study (J Satkunasingham et al. Liver Transplantation 2018; 24: 470-77) shows that MRI is a good tool to assess hepatic steatosis. In total there were 144 liver donor candidates; a subset of 32 underwent liver biopsy.
When examining magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and MRI -proton pump density fat fraction (PDFF), the authors found that MRS-PDFF and MRI-PDFF had 95% and 100% negative predictive value in identifying patients with clinically significant histologic steatosis (≥10%).
The associated editorial by James Trotter (pg 457-58) makes several important points:
- Currently living donor transplantation in the U.S. accounts for 4% of all transplants
- In his center (and most centers), protocol biopsy are not required prior to liver donation. The main indications for donor liver biopsy are biochemical dysfunction or steatosis on imaging studies.
My take (borrowed from editorial): “Noninvasive estimation of hepatic steatosis is sufficiently accurate to forgo liver biopsy in most donors, although ultimately this decision will continue to rest with the individual center.”