High risk of misinterpreting liver and spleen stiffness using 2D shear-wave and transient elastography after a moderate or high calorie meal

2017 PLoS ONE 12;4 (e0173992)

Food intake increases liver stiffness, but it is believed that liver stiffness returns to baseline two hours after a meal. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of different sized meals on liver stiffness. Liver and spleen stiffness was measured with transient elastography (TE) and real-time 2-dimensional shear wave elastography (2D-SWE). Patients ingested a 625 kcal and a 1250 kcal liquid meal on two consecutive days. We measured liver and spleen elasticity, Controlled attenuation parameter (CAP) and portal flow at baseline and after 20, 40, 60, 120 and 180 minutes. Sixty patients participated, 83% with alcoholic liver disease. Twenty-eight patients had METAVIR fibrosis score F0-3 and 32 patients had cirrhosis. Liver stiffness, spleen stiffness and CAP increased after both meals for all stages of fibrosis. False positive 2D-SWE liver stiffness measurements caused 36% and 52% of patients with F0-3 fibrosis to be misclassified with higher stages of fibrosis after the moderate and high caloric meal. Likewise, 10% and 13% of compensated cirrhosis patients were misclassified with clinically significant portal hypertension after the two meals. We observed similar misclassification rates with TE. After three hours, liver stiffness remained elevated more than 20% from baseline in up to 50% of patients. IN CONCLUSION: Liver stiffness, spleen stiffness and CAP increase after a meal across all stages of fibrosis and across elastography techniques. Up to half of patients may be misclassified with higher stages of fibrosis, if they are assessed after less than three hours fasting period.