Detection of liver injury in IBD using transient elastography

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Abstract

Background

Up to 5% of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients are thought to have clinically significant liver disease due to multifactorial causes, however, this figure may be an underestimate due to reliance on abnormal liver tests (LTs) and/or liver biopsies.

Aims

Our aim was to evaluate the prevalence of clinically significant liver disease in IBD patients as defined by an increased liver stiffness measurement (LS) ≥ 8 kPa using transient elastography (TE).

Methods

110 IBD patients, and 55 non-IBD control subjects, had their LS recorded using FibroScan® (EchoSense, Paris, France) by a single blinded operator trained in TE.

Results

71 Crohn's disease and 39 ulcerative colitis subjects were included. All demographic variables were similar between the IBD and control groups apart from a significantly higher proportion of IBD patients who smoked (17.3% vs 3.6%, P = 0.013). Seven IBD patients (6.4%) had an LS over 8 kPa and 3 had persistently elevated LS 6 months later. One patient had compensated cirrhosis. No significant differences in overall LS were observed between the IBD and control groups. Increased BMI and age, however, were independently associated with a higher LS in the IBD but not in the control group (P < 0.001 and 0.010 respectively).

Conclusion

Using TE, the prevalence of clinically significant liver disease in IBD patients is low. The association of increased BMI and age with increased LS in IBD suggests fatty liver disease being the prevailing aetiology in these patients.

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