Non invasive evaluation of portal hypertension using transient elastography

2012 Journal of Hepatology 56;3 (696-703)

The development of portal hypertension is a common consequence of chronic liver diseases leading to the formation of esophageal and gastric varices responsible for variceal bleeding, associated with a high mortality rate, as well as other severe complications such as portosystemic encephalopathy and sepsis. Measurement of hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) and upper GI endoscopy are considered the gold standards for portal hypertension assessment in patients with cirrhosis. However, both types of investigation are invasive and HVPG measurement is routinely available and/or performed with adequate standards only in expert centres. There is thus a need for non invasive methods able to predict, with acceptable diagnostic accuracy, the progression of portal hypertension toward the levels of clinically significant (i.e. HVPG >/= 10 mmHg) and severe (HVPG >/= 12 mmHg) as well as the presence and the size of oesophageal varices. Transient elastography (TE) is a novel non invasive technology that allows measuring liver stiffness and that has gained popularity over the past few years. Although TE has been initially proposed to assess liver fibrosis, a good correlation has been reported between liver stiffness values and HVPG as well as the presence of oesophageal varices, suggesting that it could be an interesting tool for the non invasive evaluation of portal hypertension. This review is aimed at discussing the advantages and limits of TE and the perspectives for its rationale use in clinical practice for the management of patients with portal hypertension.

Pubmed : 21767510