Unit of General Surgery Unit of Infectious Diseases and Hepatology Department of Public Health, Policlinico-Vittorio Emanuele, University Hospital Complex (Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria 'Policlinico-Vittorio Emanuele'), University of Catania, Catania, Italy.
Objectives: Portal hypertension has been reported as a negative prognostic factor and a relative contraindication for liver resection. This study considers a possible role of fibrosis evaluation by transient elastography (FibroScan(®) ) and its correlation with portal hypertension in patients with cirrhosis, and discusses the use of this technique in planning therapeutic options in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Methods: A total of 77 patients with cirrhosis, 42 (54.5%) of whom had HCC, were enrolled in this study during 2009-2011. The group included 46 (59.7%) men. The mean age of the sample was 65.2 years. The principle aetiology of disease was hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis (66.2%). Liver function was assessed according to Child-Pugh classification. In all patients liver stiffness (LS) was measured using FibroScan(®) . The presence of portal hypertension was indirectly defined as: (i) oesophageal varices detectable on endoscopy; (ii) splenomegaly (increased diameter of the spleen to ≥12 cm), or (iii) a platelet count of <100 000 platelets/mm(3) . Results: Median LS in all patients was 27.9 kPa. Portal hypertension was recorded as present in 37 patients (48.1%) and absent in 40 patients (51.9%). Median LS values in HCC patients with and without portal hypertension were 29.1 kPa and 19.6 kPa, respectively (r = 0.26, P < 0.04). Liver stiffness was used to implement the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer algorithm in decisions about treatment. Conclusions: The evaluation of liver fibrosis by transient elastography may be useful in the follow-up of patients with cirrhosis and a direct correlation with portal hypertension may aid in the evaluation of surgical risk in patients with HCC and in the choice of alternative therapies.