The usefulness of noninvasive liver stiffness assessment using shear-wave elastography for predicting liver fibrosis in children

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Background: Pediatric patients with liver disease require noninvasive monitoring to evaluate the risk of fibrosis progression. This study aimed to identify the significant factors affecting liver stiffness values using two-dimensional shear-wave elastography (2D-SWE), and determine whether liver stiffness can predict the fibrosis stage of various childhood liver diseases. Methods: This study included 30 children (22 boys and 8 girls; mean age, 5.1 ± 6.1 years; range, 7 days–17.9 years) who had undergone biochemical evaluation, 2D-SWE examination, histopathologic analysis of fibrosis grade (F0 to F3), assessment of necroinflammatory activity, and steatosis grading between August 2016 and March 2020. The liver stiffness from 2D-SWE was compared between fibrosis stages using Kruskal–Wallis analysis. Factors that significantly affected liver stiffness were evaluated using univariate and multivariate linear regression analyses. The diagnostic performance was determined from the area under the receiver operating curve (AUC) values of 2D-SWE liver stiffness. Results: Liver stiffness at the F0-1, F2, and F3 stages were 7.9, 13.2, and 21.7 kPa, respectively (P < 0.001). Both fibrosis stage and necroinflammatory grade were significantly associated with liver stiffness (P < 0.001 and P = 0.021, respectively). However, in patients with alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels below 200 IU/L, the only factor affecting liver stiffness was fibrosis stage (P = 0.030). The liver stiffness value could distinguish significant fibrosis (≥ F2) with an AUC of 0.950 (cutoff value, 11.3 kPa) and severe fibrosis (F3 stage) with an AUC of 0.924 (cutoff value, 18.1 kPa). The 2D-SWE values for differentiating significant fibrosis were 10.5 kPa (≥ F2) and 18.1 kPa (F3) in patients with ALT levels below 200 IU/L. Conclusion: The liver stiffness values on 2D-SWE can be affected by both fibrosis and necroinflammatory grade and can provide excellent diagnostic performance in evaluating the fibrosis stage in various pediatric liver diseases. However, clinicians should be mindful of potential confounders, such as necroinflammatory activity or transaminase level, when performing 2D-SWE measurements for liver fibrosis staging.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
JournalBMC Medical Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Child
  • Elasticity imaging techniques
  • Fibrosis
  • Liver diseases


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