HealthDay News — Ultrasound-based transient elastography (TE) has excellent diagnostic accuracy in detecting cirrhosis due to recurrent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection after liver transplantation, data from a meta-analysis show.

“The detection of significant fibrosis is more accurate for these patients versus patients whose native liver is chronically infected with HCV,” Jayant Talwalkar, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues reported in Liver Transplantation.

Although liver biopsy is the current gold standard for determining liver disease severity and progression, it may not accurately determine fibrosis severity after liver transplantation. Prior studies have shown that liver biopsy can understage cirrhosis in up to 30% of cases. So Talwalkar and colleagues performed a systemic review involving six studies to compare liver biopsy to noninvasive ultrasound-based TE for these patients.

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Analyses of pooled estimates from the five studies that evaluated significant fibrosis and cirrhosis,  TE had sensitivity and specificity of 83%, respectively, for detecting fibrosis. Sensitivity estimates were 98% and specificity was 84% for detecting cirrhosis.

“Ultrasound-based TE provides excellent diagnostic accuracy for identifying cirrhosis caused by recurrent HCV following liver transplantation,” the researchers wrote. “Further studies that confirm our results could highlight the importance of TE as a diagnostic tool for liver transplant recipients infected with HCV.”

Abedajo CO et al. Liver Transplantation. 2012; doi: 10.1002/lt.22460.