Introduction: Current guidelines recommend that all patients with cirrhosis undergo upper gastrointestinal endoscopy (UGE) screening for esophageal varices (EV). Unfortunately, UGE has a lot of disadvantages, consequently various non-invasive methods of diagnosing EV have been proposed. We evaluated if spleen stiffness measured by Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse (ARFI) is a viable technique in diagnosing EV.
Methods: We recruited 178 patients with cirrhosis caused by Hepatitis B and C who underwent biochemical tests, abdominal ultrasound, UGE, LS and SS measurements using ARFI elastography. Based on the endoscopic results the patients were divided in 3 groups: without EV, with small EV (<5 mm) and with large EV (>5 mm).
Results: ARFI SS was the only non-invasive parameter associated with the presence of EV (2.7±0.30 vs. 3.4±0.52, p<0.001) and large EV (2.91±0.36 vs. 3.86±0.37, p=0.001) after multivariate logistic regression (p<0.001). ARFI SS for predicting EV showed an AUROC of 0.872 (CI 95%: 0.799-0.944), for a cut-off value of 2.89 m/s: Sensitivity (Se) 91.4% (CI 95%: 81-97%), Specificity (Sp) 67.7% (CI 95%: 51-85%). ARFI SS for diagnosing large EV (>5mm) had better results with an AUROC 0.969 (CI 95%:0.935-0.99), and for a cut-off of 3.30 m/s: Se 96.4% (CI 95%: 82-99.9%), Sp 88.5% (CI 95%: 78-95%).
Conclusions: SS measured using ARFI is a good method of detecting EV and is an excellent method of diagnosing large EV in patients with virus-related cirrhosis.