Background: Transient elastography is now an indispensable tool for estimating liver fibrosis. Although many clinical factors other than fibrosis itself are known to affect liver stiffness (LS) values, it is still not yet clear what factors are related to improving LS values. The aim of this study was to find out how baseline histologic inflammation influences LS values and how much this inflammation affects improvement in LS values over time, regardless of actual fibrosis content. Methods: This retrospective study included 678 consecutive patients who underwent liver biopsy and sequential LS assessment from 2006 to 2015 at six tertiary hospitals in Korea. Linear regression analysis was used to evaluate how improvement of LS value can be associated with other factors besides fibrosis content. Results: Basal LS values increased with increasing inflammation in the same fibrosis stage. Degree of inflammation influenced the baseline LS value in a proportional manner (beta coefficient (BE), 6.476; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.24–10.72; p = 0.003). Moreover, histologic inflammation affected the change in LS value significantly. Higher inflammation grade at baseline was a significant predictor for an improvement in LS value, regardless of the fibrosis stage (BE, −8.581; 95% CI, −15.715–−1.447; p = 0.019). In a subgroup analysis of patients who received repeated liver biopsies, the results showed a similar tendency. Conclusions: The LS value is affected by the degree of inflammation even at a low ALT level. Furthermore, baseline histologic inflammation has a significant impact on the improvement of LS values over time. Therefore, baseline inflammation should be taken into consideration when interpreting an improvement in LS value.
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© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Liver biopsy
- Transient elastography