The use of transient elastography in the management of chronic hepatitis B

2011 Hepatology International 5;4 (868-875)

There has been increasing interest in noninvasive methods of assessing liver fibrosis over the last decade. The use of transient elastography in measuring liver stiffness has become the forefront of a wide range of noninvasive tools. Most of the other methods are based on measurements of biomarkers associated with fibrosis. There are several reasons for its wide acceptance, including the ease of performing a scan, the short procedure time, the results being immediately available on completion of the examination, and its reproducibility. For chronic hepatitis B (CHB), the cut-off values for F3 and F4 fibrosis range between 7.5-12.0 and 11.0-13.4 kPa, respectively, although the cut-offs may be slightly lower in those with normal ALT. In addition to measuring liver fibrosis, recent studies have demonstrated several other roles for transient elastography, including selecting patients who will benefit from antiviral therapy, monitoring response to antiviral therapy, and predicting long-term outcomes. However, there are limitations associated with transient elastography, including the confounding effects of inflammatory activity, and to a lesser extent, steatosis, on liver stiffness. There is also reduced accuracy observed in lower fibrosis stages (F0-F2). Furthermore, the incidences of failed and unreliable scan have been reported to be ~ 3 and 16%, respectively. Although liver biopsy can be avoided in an estimated 50-60% using transient elastography, in situations where liver stiffness measurement is nondiagnostic or inconsistent with the clinical picture, a biopsy is still recommended. Further studies are needed to consolidate the role of transient elastography in the management of CHB, and for incorporation of this method into current treatment guidelines.

Pubmed : 21695588