Magnetic resonance elastography resolving all gross anatomical segments of the kidney during controlled hydration

Marcos Wolf, Omar Darwish, Radhouene Neji, Michael Eder, Gere Sunder-Plassmann, Gertraud Heinz, Simon Daniel Robinson, Albrecht Ingo Schmid, Ewald V Moser, Ralph Sinkus, Martin Meyerspeer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article


Introduction: Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is a non-invasive method to quantify biomechanical properties of human tissues. It has potential in diagnosis and monitoring of kidney disease, if established in clinical practice. The interplay of flow and volume changes in renal vessels, tubule, urinary collection system and interstitium is complex, but physiological ranges of in vivo viscoelastic properties during fasting and hydration have never been investigated in all gross anatomical segments simultaneously. Method: Ten healthy volunteers underwent two imaging sessions, one following a 12-hour fasting period and the second after a drinking challenge of >10 mL per kg body weight (60–75 min before the second examination). High-resolution renal MRE was performed using a novel driver with rotating eccentric mass placed at the posterior-lateral wall to couple waves (50 Hz) to the kidney. The biomechanical parameters, shear wave speed (c s in m/s), storage modulus (G d in kPa), loss modulus (G l in kPa), phase angle (Formula presented.) and attenuation (α in 1/mm) were derived. Accurate separation of gross anatomical segments was applied in post-processing (whole kidney, cortex, medulla, sinus, vessel). Results: High-quality shear waves coupled into all gross anatomical segments of the kidney (mean shear wave displacement: 163 ± 47 μm, mean contamination of second upper harmonics <23%, curl/divergence: 4.3 ± 0.8). Regardless of the hydration state, median G d of the cortex and medulla (0.68 ± 0.11 kPa) was significantly higher than that of the sinus and vessels (0.48 ± 0.06 kPa), and consistently, significant differences were found in c s, (Formula presented.), and G l (all p < 0.001). The viscoelastic parameters of cortex and medulla were not significantly different. After hydration sinus exhibited a small but significant reduction in median G d by −0.02 ± 0.04 kPa (p = 0.01), and, consequently, the cortico-sinusoidal-difference in G d increased by 0.04 ± 0.07 kPa (p = 0.05). Only upon hydration, the attenuation in vessels became lower (0.084 ± 0.013 1/mm) and differed significantly from the whole kidney (0.095 ± 0.007 1/mm, p = 0.01). Conclusion: High-resolution renal MRE with an innovative driver and well-defined 3D segmentation can resolve all renal segments, especially when including the sinus in the analysis. Even after a prolonged hydration period the approach is sensitive to small hydration-related changes in the sinus and in the cortico-sinusoidal-difference.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1327407
Pages (from-to)1327407
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 07 Feb 2024


  • MRE
  • QA
  • abdominal imaging
  • hydration
  • kidney imaging
  • physiology
  • quantitative MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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