Background/aims: Liver stiffness measurement by transient elastography is a very promising non-invasive method for the diagnosis of fibrosis in chronic liver diseases. However, studies on normal values of liver stiffness in healthy subjects are still lacking. The aim of the present study was to prospectively assess liver stiffness values in the general population and to determine potential factors, which may influence these values.
Methods: Liver stiffness measurements were performed in 429 consecutive apparently healthy subjects, without overt cause of liver disease and normal liver enzymes, undergoing a free medical check-up.
Results: Mean liver stiffness value was 5.49+/-1.59 kPa. Transient elastography failure was observed in 4.6% of the cases. The failure rate increased with BMI, reaching 88% for values above 40 kg/m2. Liver stiffness values were higher in men than in women (5.81+/-1.54 vs 5.23+/-1.59 kPa, p=0.0002) and in subjects with BMI>30 kg/m2 (6.26+/-1.89 vs 5.37+/-1.51 kPa, p=0.0003). Metabolic syndrome was diagnosed in 59 (13.7%) subjects. After adjustment for gender and BMI, liver stiffness values were higher in subjects with metabolic syndrome than in those without (6.51+/-1.64 vs 5.33+/-1.51 kPa, p<0.0001).
Conclusions: Liver stiffness values in the general population are influenced independently by gender, BMI and metabolic syndrome.