Ultrasound liver elastography beyond liver fibrosis assessment

World J Gastroenterol. 2020 Jun 28;26(24):3413-3420. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v26.i24.3413.


Several guidelines have indicated that liver stiffness (LS) assessed by means of shear wave elastography (SWE) can safely replace liver biopsy in several clinical scenarios, particularly in patients with chronic viral hepatitis. However, an increase of LS may be due to some other clinical conditions not related to fibrosis, such as liver inflammation, acute hepatitis, obstructive cholestasis, liver congestion, infiltrative liver diseases. This review analyzes the role that SWE can play in cases of liver congestion due to right-sided heart failure, congenital heart diseases or valvular diseases. In patients with heart failure LS seems directly influenced by central venous pressure and can be used as a prognostic marker to predict cardiac events. The potential role of LS in evaluating liver disease beyond the stage of liver fibrosis has been investigated also in the hepatic sinusoidal obstruction syndrome (SOS) and in the Budd-Chiari syndrome. In the hepatic SOS, an increase of LS is observed some days before the clinical manifestations; therefore, it could allow an early diagnosis to timely start an effective treatment. Moreover, it has been reported that patients that were successfully treated showed a LS decrease, that reached pre-transplantation value within two to four weeks. It has been reported that, in patients with Budd-Chiari syndrome, LS values can be used to monitor short and long-term outcome after angioplasty.

Keywords: Budd Chiari syndrome; Fontan circulation; Heart failure; Hepatic sinusoidal obstruction syndrome; Liver congestion; Liver stiffness; Shear wave elastography; Valvular diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Budd-Chiari Syndrome* / diagnostic imaging
  • Budd-Chiari Syndrome* / therapy
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography