Spleen stiffness in patients with cirrhosis in predicting esophageal varices

Am J Gastroenterol. 2013 Jul;108(7):1101-7. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2013.119. Epub 2013 Apr 30.


Objectives: Screening for esophageal varices (EV) is recommended in patients with cirrhosis. Noninvasive tests had shown varying sensitivity (Se) and specificity (Sp) for predicting EV. Splenomegaly is a common finding in liver cirrhosis because of portal and splenic congestion. These changes can be quantified by transient elastography; hence, the aim of this study was to investigate the utility of spleen stiffness (SS) in evaluating EV in comparison with other noninvasive tests.

Methods: We measured SS and liver stiffness (LS) by using FibroScan in 200 consecutive cirrhotic patients who met the inclusion criteria. Patients were also assessed by hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG), upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, LS-spleen diameter to platelet ratio score (LSPS), and platelet count to spleen diameter ratio (PSR).

Results: Of 200 patients enrolled, 174 patients had valid LS and SS measurement, and 124 (71%) patients had EV (small, n=46 and large n=78). There was a significant difference in median LS (51.4 vs. 23.9 kPa, P=0.001), SS (54 vs. 32 kPa, P=0.001), LSPS (6.1 vs. 2.5, P=0.001), and PSR (812 vs. 1,165, P=0.001) between patients with EV and those without EV. LS ≥27.3 kPa had an Se of 91%, Sp of 72%, positive predictive value (PPV) of 89%, negative predictive value (NPV) of 76%, and a diagnostic accuracy of 86% in predicting EV. LSPS ≥3.09 had Se and Sp of 89% and 76%, respectively, and a PSR cutoff value of 909 or less had Se of 64%, Sp of 76%, and diagnostic accuracy of 68% in predicting EV. SS ≥40.8 kPa had Se (94%), Sp (76%), PPV (91%), NPV (84%), and diagnostic accuracy of 86% for predicting EV. SS was significantly higher in patients who had large varices (56 vs. 49 kPa, P=0.001) and variceal bleed (58 vs. 50.2 kPa, P=0.001). Combining LS+SS (27.3+40.8 kPa) had Se of 90%, Sp 90%, PPV 96%, NPV 79%, and a diagnostic accuracy of 90%. HVPG (n=52) showed significant correlation with SS (r=0.433, P=0.001), LSPS (r=0.335, P=0.01), and PSR (r=-0.270, P=0.05), but not with LS (r=0.178, P=0.20).

Conclusions: Measurement of SS can be used for noninvasive assessment of EV and can differentiate large vs. small varices and nonbleeder vs. bleeder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques
  • Elasticity*
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Organ Size
  • Platelet Count
  • Portal Pressure
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • ROC Curve
  • Spleen / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spleen / pathology*