Korean J Radiol.  2021 Feb;22(2):253-262. 10.3348/kjr.2020.0055.

Diffusion-Weighted Imaging for Differentiation of Biliary Atresia and Grading of Hepatic Fibrosis in Infants with Cholestasis

  • 1Department of Radiology and Research Institute of Radiological Science, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Severance Pediatric Liver Disease Research Group, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Pediatric Surgery, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Department of Pediatrics, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


To determine whether the values of hepatic apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) can differentiate biliary atresia (BA) from non-BA or be correlated with the grade of hepatic fibrosis in infants with cholestasis.
Materials and Methods
This retrospective cohort study included infants who received liver MRI examinations to evaluate cholestasis from July 2009 to October 2017. Liver ADC, ADC ratio of liver/spleen, aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index (APRI), and spleen size were compared between the BA and non-BA groups. The diagnostic performances of all parameters for significant fibrosis (F3–4) were obtained by receiver-operating characteristics (ROCs) curve analysis.
Altogether, 227 infants (98 males and 129 females, mean age = 57.2 ± 36.3 days) including 125 BA patients were analyzed. The absolute ADC difference between two reviewers was 0.10 mm2 /s for both liver and spleen. Liver ADC value was specific (80.4%) and ADC ratio was sensitive (88.0%) for the diagnosis of BA with comparable performance. There were 33 patients with F0, 15 with F1, 71 with F2, 35 with F3, and 11 with F4. All four parameters of APRI (τ = 0.296), spleen size (τ = 0.312), liver ADC (τ = -0.206), and ADC ratio (τ = -0.288) showed significant correlation with fibrosis grade (all, p < 0.001). The cutoff values for significant fibrosis (F3–4) were 0.783 for APRI (area under the ROC curve [AUC], 0.721), 5.9 cm for spleen size (AUC, 0.719), 1.044 x 10-3 mm2 /s for liver ADC (AUC, 0.673), and 1.22 for ADC ratio (AUC, 0.651).
Liver ADC values and ADC ratio of liver/spleen showed limited additional diagnostic performance for differentiating BA from non-BA and predicting significant hepatic fibrosis in infants with cholestasis.


Biliary atresia; Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging; Liver cirrhosis
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