Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the major causes of liver disease worldwide. To detect early stages of NAFLD and start treatment or to monitor the changes in trials of new drugs, non-invasive diagnostic methods are needed, such as biochemical markers or liver stiffness measurement (LSM). LSM with transient elastography (TE) and acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI) has been shown to be useful in NAFLD, although the cut-off values have varied among reports. Magnetic resonance elastography and real-time tissue elastography also can be useful for the diagnosis of NAFLD, although the number of studies is limited. Fibrosis is absent in 8-40% of patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), making it difficult to diagnose NASH by LSM because LSM is usually associated with fibrotic stage. The presence of inflammation or hepatocyte ballooning may affect LSM and aid the diagnosis of NASH without fibrosis. However, obesity significantly increases the failure of LSM and its interference is more conspicuous in TE than in ARFI. The newly implemented XL probe of TE has overcome the difficulty to some degree. Nonetheless, the effects of obesity, hepatocyte ballooning, steatosis and inflammation on LSM values have not yet been adequately investigated, although they are likely to affect LSM values. Further studies are needed to establish the clinical utility of LSM in NAFLD.
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