Increased liver stiffness measurement by transient elastography in severe acute exacerbation of chronic hepatitis B

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Background and Aims:

The proposed cut-off values for the degree of fibrosis as assessed by liver stiffness measurement (LSM) might not be applicable in severe acute exacerbation of chronic hepatitis B (CHB). We aimed to assess the effect of necroinflammatory activity on LSM in this condition.


We prospectively recruited consecutive patients with severe acute exacerbation of CHB (alanine aminotransferase or ALT > 10× upper limit of normal). The relationship of ALT levels and LSM were serially assessed and liver biopsy was carried out after ALT normalization.


Eleven patients (10 male, median age 43 years) were followed up for 25 weeks; nine patients received antiviral therapy. Overall, LSM was positively correlated with ALT levels (r = 0.67, P < 0.001). At initial presentation, the median serum ALT and LSM was 1136 (581-2210) IU/L and 26.3 (11.1-33.3) kPa. A progressive reduction in LSM was observed during subsequent visits in parallel with the reduction of ALT levels. At the last visit, the median ALT was 27 (11-52) IU/L and LSM was 7.7 (4.7-10.8) kPa. Among the five patients who had liver biopsy carried out at week 25, four patients had F2 fibrosis (LSM 5.7-8.1 kPa) and one patient had F3 fibrosis (LSM 8.6 kPa).


LSM using transient elastography with the current proposed cut-off values might misdiagnose liver cirrhosis in patients suffering from severe acute exacerbation of CHB. LSM should be assessed after normalization of ALT levels in order to accurately assess the degree of fibrosis.

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