Objective: To investigate routine ultrasonography (US) as an early marker and to identify risk factors for the development of cirrhosis and portal hypertension (PHT) in cystic fibrosis (CF).
Study design: A cohort of 106 children with CF aged 5.9+/-2.3 years were followed for 10.4+/-0.2 years in a CF clinic.
Results: At enrollment, the US was normal, but biochemical and/or clinical disease was present in 10%. By the end of the study, 19 had developed US changes, eight with evidence of PHT. At the time of the initial US change, only 36.4% of those had, at the end of the study, either a heterogeneous or a nodular parenchyma, and only 50% of those with PHT had biochemical and/or clinical disease. Of the 30 patients treated with ursodeoxycholic acid for biochemical and/or clinical disease with (n=15) and without (n=15) associated US changes, PHT developed in six of the former and two of the latter. Univariate analysis and logistic regression showed that children with more severe disease in terms of forced expiratory volume in one second were at somewhat greater risk (P<.06) of PHT developing.
Conclusion: US was an early marker of liver disease and more severe CF disease, a predictor of progressive liver disease. A controlled trial should be done to assess isolated US-detected disease as an indication for UDCA.