Background & aims: Transient elastography has been studied in a multitude of liver diseases for the staging of liver fibrosis with variable results. A meta-analysis was performed to assess the overall performance of transient elastography for the diagnosis of liver fibrosis and to analyze factors influencing the diagnostic accuracy.
Methods: Literature databases and international conference abstracts were searched. Inclusion criteria were as follows: evaluation of transient elastography, liver biopsy as reference, and assessment of the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC). The meta-analysis was performed using the random-effects model for the AUROC, summary receiver operating curve techniques, as well as meta-regression approaches.
Results: Fifty studies were included in the analysis. The mean AUROC for the diagnosis of significant fibrosis, severe fibrosis, and cirrhosis were 0.84 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.82-0.86), 0.89 (95% CI, 0.88-0.91), and 0.94 (95% CI, 0.93-0.95), respectively. For the diagnosis of significant fibrosis a significant reduction of heterogeneity of the AUROC was found when differentiating between the underlying liver diseases (P < .001). Other factors influencing the AUROC were the scoring system used and the country in which the study was performed. Age, body mass index, and biopsy quality did not have a significant effect on the AUROC.
Conclusions: Transient elastography can be performed with excellent diagnostic accuracy and independent of the underlying liver disease for the diagnosis of cirrhosis. However, for the diagnosis of significant fibrosis, a high variation of the AUROC was found that is dependent on the underlying liver disease.