Development and evaluation of a nurse-led transient elastography service for the staging of hepatic fibrosis in patients with suspected chronic liver disease

2012 QJM: Monthly journal of the Association of Physici 105;8 (749-754)

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Establishing the presence of fibrosis and cirrhosis is an essential step in the management of patients with chronic liver diseases (CLD). Liver stiffness measurement (LSM) based on transient elastography (TE) correlates well with the stages of liver fibrosis and has been developed as a non-invasive alternative to liver biopsy. The studies performed to date have used physician operators. With the potential use of TE for screening of community-based populations for liver disease, we aimed to evaluate the performance of nurse operators. DESIGN: Retrospective analysis. METHODS: We reviewed the reliability and accuracy of LSMs performed by the nurse-led TE service at Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham between May 2009 and January 2011. Consecutive patients with suspected CLD who underwent LSM were included. RESULTS: Over the study period 585 LSMs were performed. Analysis was performed on the 208 patients where LSM could be compared with liver biopsy findings. Of these 11 (5.3%) had unreliable LSM results (less than 10 valid shots or success rate 2), a sensitivity of 0.78 and specificity of 0.81 was obtained, with a cut-off value of 8 kPa. Using a cut-off value of 13 kPa for detection of cirrhosis, a sensitivity and specificity of 0.8 and 0.92 was obtained. CONCLUSION: We have demonstrated that a nurse-led TE service can produce a low level of unreliable results and LSM failures, with comparable sensitivity and specificity for detecting significant fibrosis and cirrhosis to those reported in the literature. The demands on the use of TE could potentially be eased through the introduction of nurse-led service delivery.

Pubmed : 22408151