CT indices for the diagnosis of hepatic steatosis using non-enhanced CT images: development and validation of diagnostic cut-off values in a large cohort with pathological reference standard

Jieun Byun, Seung Soo Lee, Yu Sub Sung, Youngbin Shin, Jessica Yun, Ho Sung Kim, Eun sil Yu, Sung Gyu Lee, Moon gyu Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objectives: To compare the performances of CT indices for diagnosing hepatic steatosis (HS) and to determine and validate the CT index cut-off values. Methods: Three indices were measured on non-enhanced CT images of 4413 living liver donor candidates (2939 men, 1474 women; mean age, 31.4 years): hepatic attenuation (CTL), hepatic attenuation minus splenic attenuation (CTL-S), and hepatic attenuation divided by splenic attenuation (CTL/S). The performances of these CT indices in diagnosing HS, relative to pathologic diagnosis, were compared in the development cohort of 3312 subjects by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. The cut-off values for diagnosing HS > 33% in the development cohort were determined at 95% specificity and 95% sensitivity using bootstrap ROC analysis, and the diagnostic performance of these cut-off values was validated in the test cohort of 1101 subjects. Results: CTL-S showed the highest performance for diagnosing HS ≥ 5% and HS > 33% (areas under the curve (AUCs) = 0.737 and 0.926, respectively), followed by CTL/S (AUCs = 0.732 and 0.925, respectively) and CTL (AUCs = 0.707 and 0.880, respectively). For CT scans using 120 kVp, the CTL-S cut-off values for highly specific (i.e., − 2.1) and highly sensitive (i.e., 7.6) diagnosis of HS > 33% resulted in a specificity of 96.4% with a sensitivity of 64.0% and a sensitivity of 97.3% with a specificity of 54.9%, respectively, in the test cohort. Conclusion: CT indices using liver and spleen attenuations have higher performance for diagnosing HS than indices using liver attenuation alone. The CTL-S cut-off values in this study may have utility for diagnosing HS in clinical practice and research. Key Points: • CT indices based on both liver attenuation and spleen attenuation (CTL-Sand CTL/S) have higher diagnostic performance than CTLbased on liver attenuation alone in diagnosing HS using various CT techniques. • The CT index cut-off values determined in this study can be utilized for reliable diagnosis or to rule out subjects with moderate to severe HS in clinical practice and research, including the selection of living liver donors and the development of cohorts with HS or healthy controls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4427-4435
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning (NRF-2017R1A2B4003114), the Bio and Medical Technology Development Program of the NRF funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (NRF-2016M3A9A7918706), a grant from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant number: HI18C2383), and a grant (2014-444) from the Asan Institute for Life Sciences, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, European Society of Radiology.


  • Fatty liver
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Tomography, X-ray computed


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