Copyright ©2009 The WJG Press and Baishideng. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Mar 28, 2009; 15(12): 1409-1414
Published online Mar 28, 2009. doi: 10.3748/wjg.15.1409
Is transient elastography a useful tool for screening liver disease?
Paolo Del Poggio, Silvia Colombo
Paolo Del Poggio, Silvia Colombo, Hepatology Unit, Treviglio Hospital, Treviglio (Bg) 24047, Italy
Author contributions: Both authors wrote the manuscript.
Correspondence to: Paolo Del Poggio, Hepatology Unit, Treviglio Hospital, Treviglio (Bg) 24047, Italy. pdpoggio@ospedale.treviglio.bg.it
Telephone: +39-363-424494  
Fax: +39-363-424561
Received: December 19, 2008
Revised: February 17, 2009
Accepted: February 24, 2009
Published online: March 28, 2009

Transient elastography (TE) is a new non invasive tool for measuring liver stiffness, which is correlated to the histologic stage of liver fibrosis. Several studies in chronic liver disease (CLD) have determined a good accuracy of TE in predicting significant fibrosis and an optimal accuracy in predicting cirrhosis. Normal liver stiffness ranges between 3.3-7.8 KPa and using a cut off of 7.1 KPa, significant fibrosis and cirrhosis can be excluded with a very high negative predictive value (NPV). Positive predictive value (PPV) for the diagnosis of cirrhosis is lower using just a single scan but increases to 90% if high stiffness values are confirmed by a second independent scan. However the presence of fatty liver and metabolic syndrome slightly increases the readings and may reduce the accuracy of the test. It is uncertain if this increase is related to the presence of steatofibrosis or if it is caused by steatosis itself. TE can be used in screening patients attending the liver clinics to identify those with significant fibrosis or cirrhosis and may be particularly useful in discriminating HBV inactive carriers from chronic hepatitis B patients. TE, however, is not reliable in predicting the presence of esophageal varices in cirrhotics. Another potential indication for TE is the systematic screening of populations at high risk for CLD, such as intravenous drug users and alcoholics, but further studies are needed to determine its diagnostic accuracy in these settings.

Keywords: Transient elastography, Screening, Liver disease, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Non alcoholic steatohepatitis, Cirrhosis