Transient elastography to assess liver stiffness in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

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Abstract

Background Liver injury during inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is primarily diagnosed by liver biopsy, which has a small but serious risk of severe complications. The aim of this study was to assess liver stiffness, and subsequently the prevalence and associations of liver fibrosis in IBD patients with thiopurine therapy and other clinical factors, by using transient elastography (TE). Methods In this prospective, international two-center study, included IBD-patients underwent TE measurements. Laboratory results and medication reports, radiology results and historical liver biopsy results were extracted from the patient charts. Results Transient elastography results of 168 patients were presented. Moderate and severe fibrosis were detected in 4% (7/168) and 1% (1/168) of the cohort, respectively. Factors contributing to lower liver stiffness were female gender and (historical) exposure to azathioprine. Further, there was a statistical trend towards lower liver stiffness in patients using thiopurines overall (4.7 vs. 5.2 kPa, p = 0.07). Liver stiffness correlated positively with waist circumference, liver enzyme tests, hemoglobin and 6-methylmercaptopurine concentration and negatively with platelet count. Conclusion Exposure to thiopurine therapy was not associated with higher liver stiffness, although no clinical difference in severity of fibrosis was detected. Further research should robustly determine the accuracy of TE as an evaluation of liver fibrosis in IBD patients.

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Meijer, B., van Everdingen, C. K., Ramsoekh, D., Stedman, C., Frampton, C. M. A., Mulder, C. J. J., … Gearry, R. B. (2018). Transient elastography to assess liver stiffness in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Digestive and Liver Disease, 50(1), 48–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dld.2017.09.128

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