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Update of liver fibrosis and steatosis with transient elastography (Fibroscan)

Update of liver fibrosis and steatosis with transient elastography (Fibroscan)

Background: Assessment of liver fibrosis and steatosis is now almost indispensable in most of the chronic liver diseases in order to determine prognosis and need for treatment, and to monitor disease progression and response to treatment. Liver biopsy is limited by its invasiveness and patient acceptability. Transient elastography (TE; Fibroscan) is a non-invasive tool with satisfactory accuracy and reproducibility to estimate liver fibrosis.

Aims & Methods: To review the existing evidence concerning the clinical applications of TE in major liver diseases, including chronic hepatitis B and -C, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), alcoholic liver disease, primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis.

Results: As alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is one of the major confounding factors of liver stiffness in chronic hepatitis B, an ALT-based algorithm has been developed and higher liver stiffness measurements (LSM) cut-off values for different stages of liver fibrosis should be used in patients with elevated ALT levels up to five times the upper limit of normal. Furthermore, falsely-high LSM results up to the cirrhotic range may occur during ALT flare. TE is also useful predicting patient prognosis in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), portal hypertension, postoperative complications in HCC patients and survival. Unfortunately, failed acquisition of TE is common in obese patients. Furthermore, obese patients may have higher LSM results, even in the same stage of liver fibrosis. To better evaluate NAFLD a new XL probe, with a larger probe with lower ultrasound frequency and deeper penetration, increases the success rate of TE in obese patients. The median LSM value with the XL probe was found to be lower than that by the conventional M probe, hence cut-off values were approximately 1.2 to 1.3 kilopascals lower than those of the M probe, suggesting its adoption. Studies reveal that a novel ultrasonic controlled attenuation parameter is potentially useful to detect and quantify hepatic steatosis non-invasively.

Conclusion: TE is a non-invasive, accurate and reproducible test of liver fibrosis and possibly hepatic steatosis and has been validated in a wide spectrum of liver diseases. TE is also useful to predict patient outcomes.
Key words

    fatty liver
    liver biopsy
    liver stiffness measurement

    Grace Lai-Hung Wong1,2,*

+ Author Affiliations

    1Institute of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China 2Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

    ↵*Corresponding author. Grace Lai-Hung Wong, MD Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, 9/F Prince of Wales Hospital, 30–32 Ngan Shing Street, Shatin, Hong Kong SAR, China. Telephone: +852-2632-3593; Fax: +852-2637-3852; Email: ***@****

    © The Author(s) 2013. Published by Oxford University Press and the Digestive Science Publishing Co. Limited.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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