Masaru Enomoto, Hiroyasu Morikawa, Akihiro Tamori, Norifumi Kawada, Department of Hepatology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka 5458585, Japan.
INFECTION WITH HEPATITIS B VIRUS IS AN IMPORTANT HEALTH PROBLEM WORLDWIDE: it affects more than 350 million people and is a leading cause of liver-related morbidity, accounting for 1 million deaths annually. Hepatic fibrosis is a consequence of the accumulation of extracellular matrix components in the liver. An accurate diagnosis of liver fibrosis is essential for the management of chronic liver disease. Liver biopsy has been considered the gold standard for diagnosing disease, grading necroinflammatory activity, and staging fibrosis. However, liver biopsy is unsuitable for repeated evaluations because it is invasive and can cause major complications, including death. Several noninvasive evaluations have been introduced for the assessment of liver fibrosis: serum biomarkers, combined indices or scores, and imaging techniques including transient elastography, acoustic radiation force impulse, real-time tissue elastography, and magnetic resonance elastography. Here, we review the recent progress of noninvasive assessment of liver fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis B. Most noninvasive evaluations for liver fibrosis have been validated first in patients with chronic hepatitis C, and later in those with chronic hepatitis B. The establishment of a noninvasive assessment of liver fibrosis is urgently needed to aid in the management of this leading cause of chronic liver disease.