Source Department of Gastroenterology, Dokkyo Medical University Department of Gastroenterology, Dokkyo Medical University Koshigaya Hospital, Saitama, Japan.
Aim: To investigate the value of liver stiffness in diagnosing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) among patients with viral hepatitis, and to prospectively investigate relationships between liver stiffness and HCC development.
Methods: Liver stiffness was measured by transient elastography for 157 patients with viral hepatitis, along with various other parameters potentially associated with HCC. HCC was initially present in 41 patients and absent in 116 patients, of whom 106 patients were followed prospectively for HCC development. Diagnostic performances of liver stiffness and other clinical parameters in predicting presence of HCC were evaluated using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves and area under the ROC curve (AUROC).
Results: Liver stiffness was significantly higher in patients with HCC (24.9 ± 19.5 kPa) than in patients without HCC (10.9 ± 8.4 kPa; P < 0.0001). Age (P < 0.0001), platelet cell count (P = 0.0001), prothrombin activity (P = 0.0009), alpha fetoprotein (P = 0.0091), and des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) (P = 0.0099) also differed significantly between patients with and without HCC. The largest AUROC was for liver stiffness. Differences between liver stiffness and age, platelet cell count, prothrombin activity, and DCP were not significant, but the AUROC of liver stiffness was superior to that of alpha fetoprotein (P = 0.03850). Using a cut-off liver stiffness of 12.5 kPa, development of HCC was identified in 10 of the 106 patients followed. Multivariate analysis identified liver stiffness ≥12.5 kPa, age ≥60 years, and serum total bilirubin ≥1.0 mg/dL as significantly correlated with development of HCC.
Conclusions: Liver stiffness as measured by transient elastography is a predictor of HCC development in viral hepatitis.