1Ultrasonography Unit, CDR, Via Zagabria 60, 09129 Cagliari, Italy.
2Liver Unit, Department of Medical Sciences, Policlinico Universitario, University of Cagliari, SS 554 Bivio Sestu, 09042 Monserrato, Cagliari Italy.
Abstractin English, Italian
To evaluate the prevalence of bright liver echo pattern (BLP) on ultrasonography and its correlation with liver steatosis (LS), and fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C. The usefulness of detecting skip areas for steatosis diagnosis has also been evaluated.
The study included 88 patients with chronic hepatitis C (55 men, 33 women, average age 45.7 ± 11.2 years). Ultrasound examination was performed in all patients before liver biopsy. The presence of BLP was assessed and graded from 1 to 3. Hypoechogenic areas (skip areas) around the gallbladder or near the portal vein were also evaluated. Hepatic fibrosis was assessed using the Ishak fibrosis score. Steatosis was graded as follows: 1, 2, 3 (<30, 30-70, >70 % of hepatocytes affected, respectively).
Fifty-three of the 88 patients (60 %) showed BLP (40 grade 1, 13 grades 2 or 3). Skip areas were found in 14 patients (16 %). Histological steatosis was observed in 40 patients (45 %) and in 10 of them (25 %) was grades 2 and 3 (4 and 6 patients, respectively). As regards fibrosis, 2 patients showed F0, 34 F1, 28 F2, 20 F3, 4 F4, none of them F5 and F6. BLP of grades 2 or 3 and presence of skip areas were strongly correlated with LS (P = 0.00007 and P = 0.00003, respectively). No correlation was found between BLP and fibrosis. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), negative predictive value (NPV) and accuracy of BLP for LS were 75, 50, 56, 68 and 61 %, respectively. When BLP of grades 2 and 3 and LS of 30 % or more were correlated, the sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV and accuracy of BLP were 72, 96, 61, 96 and 90 %, respectively. As regards skip areas the sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV and accuracy for LS were 35, 100, 100, 64 and 70 %, respectively.
In a well-defined group of patients with chronic hepatitis C, the detection of BLP grades 2 and 3 has a good sensitivity and high specificity for high grades of steatosis. A high specificity but low sensitivity for liver steatosis was also found for skip areas, whereas mild fibrosis does not seem to correlate with the hyperechogenicity of the liver.