Published online Aug 18, 2015. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v7.i17.2069
Peer-review started: May 6, 2015
First decision: June 25, 2015
Revised: July 15, 2015
Accepted: August 10, 2015
Article in press: August 11, 2015
Published online: August 18, 2015
Early diagnosis of liver cirrhosis is important. Ultrasound-guided liver biopsy is the gold standard for diagnosis of liver cirrhosis. However, its invasiveness and sampling bias limit the applicability of the method. Basic imaging for the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis has developed over the last few decades, enabling early detection of morphological changes of the liver by ultrasonography (US), computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They are also accurate diagnostic methods for advanced liver cirrhosis, for which early diagnosis is difficult. There are a number of ways to compensate for this difficulty, including texture analysis to more closely identify the homogeneity of hepatic parenchyma, elastography to measure the stiffness and elasticity of the liver, and perfusion studies to determine the blood flow volume, transit time, and velocity. Amongst these methods, elastography using US and MRI was found to be slightly easier, faster, and able to provide an accurate diagnosis. Early diagnosis of liver cirrhosis using MRI or US elastography is therefore a realistic alternative, but further research is still needed.
Core tip: The development of new imaging modalities for liver cirrhosis has enabled early and accurate diagnosis of liver cirrhosis. Currently, elastography, used to measure the stiffness and elasticity of the liver, is more widely applied than texture. Ultrasound is simple imaging tool in diagnosing cirrhosis and can be added as several additional complementary technologies. The non-inferior diagnostic capability, non-invasiveness and relative cost-effectiveness of ultrasonography elastography may enable it to be one of the most useful techniques for diagnosis of liver cirrhosis.