Elastography –Accuracy in Children

Background: Transient elastography may help identify patients at greater risk for advanced fibrosis but there is a significant overlap between fibrosis stages and values with transient elastography. In some conditions, like fatty liver, elastography may be less helpful than in others (eg. chronic viral hepatitis).

A recent study (J Pediatr 2018; 198: 84-9) examined the results of transient elastography in 267 children (97 for calibration, 170 for validation) between 2006-2016.  The median age was 13 years.  Liver diseases included autoimmune (21%), viral (19%), fatty liver (11%), cholestatic (9%), primary sclerosing cholangitis (9%) and post-transplantation (12%).

Key findings:

  • Cut points to discriminate F3-F4 and F4 were >8.6 kPa and >11.5 with 81% and 84% accuracy, respectively in calibration cohort
  • To discriminate F3-F4 and F4 in validation cohort, these cut points, >8.6 kPa and >11.5, had accuracy of 67% and 75% respectively

Figure 2 provides much greater detail in the typical values for each Metavir stage. For example, in the calibration cohort, the median values and range were the following:

  • F0   6.0 (3.2-12.4)
  • F1   6.2 (3.2-75)
  • F2   5.8 (2.5-52.7)
  • F3  10.3 (4.9-32.6)
  • F4  20.5 (5.9-68.1)

In the validation cohort, values were similar:

  • F0   6.2 (3.0-75.0)
  • F1   7.1 (3.3-31.6)
  • F2   7.1 (2.5-52.7)
  • F3  9.6 (4.4-75.0)
  • F4  20.8 (6.8-75.0)

My take: Elastography in measuring liver stiffness is a lot like checking a CRP for inflammatory bowel disease.  That is, it can be helpful but cannot be relied on the same way as many radiographic tests (eg. CT scans for appendicitis).

Related blog post:

Moraine Lake, Banff

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