Ultrasonographic diagnosis of hepatic fibrosis or cirrhosis

J Hepatol. 1999 Mar;30(3):472-8. doi: 10.1016/s0168-8278(99)80107-x.


Background/aims: Evaluation of the degree of hepatic fibrosis is especially important in patients with chronic liver disease. Our aim was to study the diagnostic accuracy of abdominal ultrasonography for cirrhosis or fibrosis.

Methods: Twenty-three clinical (n=12) and Doppler ultrasonic (n=11) variables were recorded in 243 patients with chronic (alcoholic and viral) liver disease under conditions close to those of clinical practice. Fibrosis was classified into six grades by two pathologists. Diagnostic accuracy was evaluated by discriminant analysis, first globally using all variables, then by stepwise analysis.

Results: A) Diagnosis of cirrhosis: 1) whole group (n=243): diagnostic accuracy was globally 84%, and 84% with two variables: spleen length, portal velocity; 2) compensated chronic liver disease (n=191): diagnostic accuracy was globally 85%, and 82% with two variables: liver surface, liver length (right kidney); 3) alcoholic compensated chronic liver disease (n=109): diagnostic accuracy was globally 86%, and 88% with two variables: spleen length, liver length (middle clavicle); 4) viral compensated chronic liver disease (n= 83): diagnostic accuracy was globally 86% and 86% with one variable: liver surface. By subtracting the proportion of patients who could not be investigated due to anatomical limitations, the highest calculated univariate diagnostic accuracy decreased by 7%. B) Diagnosis of fibrosis: diagnostic accuracy was globally 84% for extensive fibrosis.

Conclusions: Cirrhosis can be correctly diagnosed in 82-88% of patients with chronic liver disease using a few ultrasonographic signs. However, the diagnostic accuracy of ultrasound is decreased by the anatomical limitations of this technique.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ultrasonography