Prospective Evaluation of Liver Stiffness Using Transient Elastography in Alcoholic Patients Following Abstinence

2017 Alcohol Alcohol 52;1 (42-47)

AIMS: Fibroscan(R) is a non-invasive method to evaluate liver stiffness (LS), however, its accuracy in alcohol-related liver diseases (ALD) especially with respect to active or stopped alcohol drinking is largely unknown. We prospectively evaluated the LS changes in patients with ALD following alcohol withdrawal. METHODS: Sixty-four patients were evaluated by FibroScan(R) and lab tests at baseline and after 4 weeks of abstinence. RESULTS: At baseline, 21 patients (33%) had an abnormal LS (> 7 kPa) and 32 patients (50%) had abnormal liver function tests. More specifically, 3 and 11 subjects had a LS higher than 9.6 kPa and 12.5 kPa, respectively. The LS significantly declined in abstinent from 9.2 +/- 10.1 (M+/-SD) at the baseline to 6.9 +/- 6.1 kPa at 4 weeks (P = 0.03), respectively, while did not change significantly in drinkers. In addition, 80% of abstainers had a significant LS reduction (-2.6 +/- 5.5 kPa), compared to drinkers (2.2 +/- 3.6 kPa) (P = 0.004). After 6 months, 27 patients accepted a further evaluation: 22 abstinent and 5 relapsed to drink. At the final evaluation, only 4 out of 22 abstainers had still a LS higher than 7 kPa. CONCLUSIONS: During active drinking LS is probably overestimated by Fibroscan(R) in ALD, since 1 month after abstinence it is dramatically reduced, especially in subjects with baseline values higher than 7 kPa. SHORT SUMMARY: We prospectively evaluated liver stiffness by Fibroscan(R) in patients with alcohol-related liver disease at baseline and following abstinence. After 1 month of abstinence, the LS is dramatically reduced, especially when values are greater than 7 kPa and transaminase elevated at baseline.