Unenhanced CT for assessment of macrovesicular hepatic steatosis in living liver donors: comparison of visual grading with liver attenuation index

Radiology. 2007 Aug;244(2):479-85. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2442061177.


Purpose: To retrospectively compare the accuracy of visual grading and the liver attenuation index in the computed tomographic (CT) diagnosis of 30% or higher macrovesicular steatosis in living hepatic donors, by using histologic analysis as the reference standard.

Materials and methods: Institutional review board approval was obtained with waiver of informed consent. Of 703 consecutive hepatic donor candidates, 24 patients (22 men and two women; mean age +/- standard deviation, 36.3 years +/- 9.7) who had 30% or higher macrovesicular steatosis at histologic analysis and same-day CT with subsequent needle biopsy in the right hepatic lobe (at least two samples per patient) were evaluated. An age- and sex-matched control group of 24 subjects included those who had less than 30% macrovesicular steatosis but otherwise met the same criteria as the patient group. A diagnostically difficult setting was made by selecting those with the highest degree of macrovesicular steatosis when there were multiple control subjects matched for a particular subject in the patient group. Two independent radiologists assessed steatosis of the right hepatic lobe by using two methods: a five-point visual grading system that used attenuation comparison between the liver and hepatic vessels and the liver attenuation index (CT(L-S)), defined as hepatic attenuation minus splenic attenuation and calculated with region of interest measurements of hepatic attenuation. Interobserver agreement was assessed. Accuracy in the diagnosis of 30% or higher macrovesicular steatosis was compared by using a multireader, multicase receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis.

Results: For visual grading, kappa = 0.905 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.834, 0.976). Intraclass correlation coefficient for CT(L-S) was 0.962 (95% CI: 0.893, 0.983). The area under the ROC curve of visual grading and CT(L-S) were 0.927 (95% CI: 0.822, 1) and 0.929 (95% CI: 0.874, 0.983), respectively, indicating no statistically significant difference (P = .975).

Conclusion: Both visual grading and CT(L-S) are highly reliable and similarly accurate in the diagnosis of 30% or higher macrovesicular steatosis in living hepatic donor candidates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Fatty Liver / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Living Donors*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*