New diagnostic method for liver fibrosis and cirrhosis

2008 Intervirology 51 Suppl 1, (11-16)

Liver fibrosis, i.e. excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins, occurs in most types of chronic liver diseases. The prognosis and management of chronic liver diseases depend on the degree of liver fibrosis. Therefore, the assessment of liver fibrosis provides useful information not only for diagnosis but also for treatment planning. Although liver biopsy is still the gold standard for assessing hepatic fibrosis, it has some technical limitations and risks. Furthermore, the dynamic process of liver fibrosis resulting from progression and regression cannot be quantified by liver biopsy. Therefore, alternative, simple, reliable and noninvasive tests are needed to assess the stage of fibrosis. Several noninvasive direct and indirect serum markers able to predict the presence of significant fibrosis or cirrhosis in patients with chronic liver disease with considerable accuracy have been reported. However, since most of these markers require complicated calculations, clinical application is difficult. Transient elastography (FibroScan) is a new method for the evaluation of liver stiffness. The technique is based on changes in tissue elasticity induced by hepatic fibrosis. Liver stiffness measured by transient elastography is a noninvasive, reproducible and reliable method to assess hepatic fibrosis as well as to diagnose liver cirrhosis. Based on accumulating clinical data, clinical applications of elastography will increase in the near future.

Pubmed : 18544943